Tourists visiting a wildlife refuge in New South Wales, Australia, are being injured when they attempt to take selfies with the resident kangaroos.
Morisset Hospital, a former insane asylum whose grounds were declared a wildlife refuge in 1972, is now home to many wild kangaroos, and has become the most popular tourist attraction in the area.
The Washington Post reported, “Despite the fact that Morisset remains an active psychiatric hospital, thousands of visitors flock to the fields around the clinic each year, hoping for an encounter with one of Australia’s most iconic animals. And a kangaroo encounter is almost guaranteed to happen, given how conditioned the animals have become to visiting humans, said Australian MP Greg Piper, who represents Lake Macquarie.”
In an effort to lure the kangaroos into selfies, tourists have offered them carrots, bread, chips — and even food from McDonald’s and KFC.
After being spoiled by receiving too much human food, some of the kangaroos have become aggressive and even violent toward visitors in their search for more. Tourists have sustained an array of injuries as a result of kangaroo aggression.
Melbourne resident Anita Bielaszka was attacked by a male kangaroo at Morisset Hospital.
“He jumped on my back as I was on my knees and he scratched my legs,” Bielaszka said. “Everyone got scared and people took their kids and walked off. It wasn’t a big injury, more scary than painful, but that could’ve been a little kid instead of me — then it could’ve gotten nasty.”
Due to increased aggression from the kangaroos, Piper has called for a coordinated response from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Minister for Health and the Minister for the Environment.
“Despite a number of warning signs being placed throughout the area, people still come in droves and they feed the kangaroos processed foods,” Piper said in an address to Parliament. “Recently one attacked a man, who required 17 stitches in his face.”
Piper added, “I do not want to stop people from seeing the kangaroos, but the situation has to be better managed.”
The Humane Society warns, “Once animals learn they can panhandle for food, they can become a nuisance — or even worse, a safety risk.”