THE UNLIKELY SELFIE KING
It would have been a nice place for a quokka to live a peaceful life, hanging out with friends and family. But the discovery of Rottnest Island by tourists has effectively put an end to that. This Australian island was inhabited by indigenous people as early as 65,000 years ago, and it was not always an island. The Whadjuk Noongar people could walk there 6,500 years ago, when it was still connected to the mainland. European discovery was made by Dutch sailors in the mid-1600s, and Rottnest (“rat’s nest”) got its name when a Dutch captain explored the island in 1696 and mistook the quokkas for giant rats.
Also known as short-tailed scrub wallabies, the creatures are not rodents at all but rather marsupials, and around 10,000 of them live on the island today. They have become fairly accustomed to tourists and have been attracting more attention since Australian actor Chris Hemsworth put his quokka selfies online. The cute critters don’t object to being in selfies, but here are some tips for doing it right: Don’t chase them; let them come to you. Don’t touch them, feed them, or give them anything to drink. Human food is bad for quokkas. And take your photo near a settlement, as the quokkas there are the most accustomed to tourists.