Perhaps this is revenge for a kangaroo’s tourist-related death at a zoo in China.
Wild kangaroos known to frequent the grounds of a psychiatric hospital near Lake Macquarie on Australia’s east coast have been attacking some of the 3,000 tourists who visit each week, drawing warnings from city officials, reports the BBC.
“While kangaroos are cute, they are also capable of inflicting injury,” says local member of parliament Greg Piper, who describes kangaroos “kicking out, clawing faces and grappling with people, causing lacerations or significant scratching,” per the Guardian.
One man “required 17 stitches in his face,” while another suffered a nasty gash to his stomach, Piper says, though he claims it’s the tourists that are the problem.
Descending on the Morisset area for the free opportunity for a “roo selfie,” they bring snacks ranging from carrots to fast food, and the kangaroos are getting accustomed to those snacks—and aggressive about taking them, Piper says.
“It’s a spot where you’re guaranteed to see kangaroos, so it’s understandable that people come,” he notes.
But little gets in the way of a hungry kangaroo.
“I’ve seen kangaroos lash out thinking the kids [are] going to take their food when they’re just coming to pat them,” a tour bus operator tells the Guardian.
The animals may be suffering, too. Experts warn food other than grass could result in fatal diseases, sugar addiction, stomach ulcers, and other issues related to diet, as well as aggressive behavior, per the Guardian and ABC Australia. Though signs warn that feeding the kangaroos is dangerous, Piper is calling for better signage and education.