When you visit Rottnest Island, be prepared to smile. The island is home to the largest viable population of quokkas—small wallabies that are cute and camera ready. These furry creatures have become the latest internet sensation, as visitors from all over the world travel to Rottnest for a chance to cheese with one.
Quokka selfies became popular around 2012 when one quokka selfie went viral. Though interest in these friendly nocturnal animals can also be a big challenge—touching and feeding the quokkas isn’t good for them—the increase in Rottnest Island tourism helps raise awareness and fund continued research and care for these threatened Australian marsupials.
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“Last year, the Rottnest Island Authority concluded a three-year study into the health, genetics and demographic of the island quokka population,” Rottnest Island Authority conservation officer Cassyanna Gray said.
“The study found that tourism — and the resulting modified habitat — has not had a negative impact on the island’s quokkas and can, in fact, have a positive influence if managed carefully.”