May 2 (UPI) — The city of Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, Australia, is warning visitors not to feed kangaroos at a popular tourist destination because the marsupials can become aggressive.
Large numbers of kangaroos graze the slopes at an unlikely visitor spot — Morisset Hospital — which travel websites have promoted as a destination that boasts wild kangaroos tame enough to approach and photograph.
Local authorities disagree with the encouragement and are warning about the dangers of getting too close after one person was left with 17 stitches in the face and another person suffered severe cuts to their stomach.
Lawmaker Greg Piper posted a video to Facebook warning people not to feed the kangaroos at what has become the town’s biggest attraction.
“Due to the feeding that has occurred, these kangaroos are not just desensitized to human contact, they will literally come to you looking for food. This behavior can actually lead to aggression, particularly from male kangaroos,” Piper said. “What many tourists seem to overlook is that these are wild animals – they are equipped with long, sharp claws and they do actually injure people from time to time.”
The kangaroos have become conditioned to expect food from tourists, many of which feed them carrots. Animal experts say the carrots are no better than junk food for the kangaroos because the animals eat so many.
“If they see a carrot and they’ve been fed a carrot 100 times before by a tourist, then they’re going to come up and take that carrot,” said Andrew Daly, an animal keeper at the Australian Reptile Park. “And in doing so they can be quite aggressive.”
Officials don’t want to prevent tourists from visiting the kangaroos altogether, and instead hope to educate people about the dangers.