Visitors feeding the kangaroos have caused the animals to lose their fear of people.

By Travel + Leisure
May 09, 2018
A woman takes a selfie with a kangaroo.
Jose Francisco Arias Fernandez //Getty Images

Contrary to what their cuddlesome appearance might suggest, kangaroos are wild animals. Tourists visiting them in New South Wales, Australia are learning that the hard way.

Morisset Hospital in Lake Macquarie, New South Wales draws thousands of tourists every week hoping to catch a glimpse of its resident wild kangaroo population. Several visitors have lured the animals into selfies with carrots, bread, chips — and even McDonald’s and KFC.

As a result, some of the kangaroos have become aggressive and even violent toward visitors in their search for human food. The photos below show some of the injuries sustained in kangaroo attacks. Warning: Some of the images are graphic.

Melbourne resident Anita Bielaszka told INSIDER that she had been attacked by one of the male Morisset kangaroos.

“He jumped on my back as I was on my knees and he scratched my legs,” Bielaszka told INSIDER. “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.”

The kangaroos’ increasing aggression has spurred Australian MP Greg Piper to call 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.”

“I do not want to stop people from seeing the kangaroos, but the situation has to be better managed,” Piper added.

Related: Authorities Say Man Was Killed Trying to Take a Selfie With a Bear

This may seem like common sense, but it bears repeating: Feeding wild animals is not a good idea. First off, human food isn’t healthy for animals. Second, it can make wild animals lose their fear of people. According to the Humane Society, “Once animals learn they can panhandle for food, they can become a nuisance — or even worse, a safety risk.”

So the next time you feel tempted to take a selfie with a wild animal, just put that phone back in your pocket and observe from a distance. You’ll be ensuring both your own safety and the safety of the animal.

And if you do want to cuddle up with a kangaroo, there is a way to do it safely. Just head to the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Australia for a guided encounter.