While carrots are healthy for humans, for kangaroos it’s like eating chocolate. (File photo) (Supplied: Tripadvisor)
Wildlife carers say they no longer have to euthanase kangaroos at a New South Wales hospital, after access was cut to thousands of tourists who were flocking to feed them.
- Thousands of people had been visiting Morisset Hospital to feed the kangaroos that live on site
- Several of the animals were euthanased due to injuries sustained when they were hit by vehicles
- Gates restricting access are having an impact and the roos’ health is improving because they’re no longer being fed high-sugar food
Morisset Hospital in southern Lake Macquarie had become an unofficial tourist attraction, with up to 2,000 people a week trying to get close to kangaroos that live on the grounds.
Hunter Wildlife Rescue said it had been euthanasing a number of the animals every week because they were getting hit by cars due to increased traffic.
But it seems custom-made gates installed late last year to restrict people entering the site are having an effect.
Shuttle bus driver Shane Lewis wants people to realise they can be dangerous animals. (Supplied: Shane Lewis)
Group president Audrey Koosman said it was a huge relief the gates were working, with no kangaroos needing to be put down in at least four months.
“Thank goodness we’ve got the place locked up and we don’t have that problem anymore,” she said.
“We were going there three to four times a day, five times a week — we’d be down there assisting animals that needed help, which were injured badly and most of them were euthanased.”
Biting the hand that feeds them
The kangaroos had become increasingly aggressive due to being fed by tourists and in some instances attacked them.
Their health was also deteriorating because they were being given high-sugar foods such as carrots, KFC and chips.
Experts say the kangaroos lost their fear of people and grew hungrier for the food being given to them. (Supplied: Shane Lewis)
“The animals were in extremely poor condition, but now they’re not having that food, their health is coming back to normal, their coats are looking good,” Ms Koosman said.
“They’ve put on a lot of weight because they’re only eating grass now, which they should be eating.”
While carrots are healthy for humans, for kangaroos it’s like having a chocolate bar, according to Andrew Daly from the Australian Reptile Park.
“They’re both just as bad in different ways … they can gorge or overfeed on them very easily,” he said.
Message slowly sinking in
But some people are still trying to gain access to the site through nearby bushland and swamps, raising concerns of increased tourism over the October long weekend.
Local MP Greg Piper said that while hospital security staff had been turning tourists away, the issue was a lot more manageable.
He met with representatives from the Hunter New England Health District this week to discuss the progress.
“There’s certainly some need for increased surveillance of the area, but overwhelmingly it’s been a great success,” he said.
“I think it’s going to take quite some time — the message that Morisset Hospital is no longer available for kangaroo tourism — for that to get through.”
Hospital staff have been told to remain vigilant and continue turning people away when necessary.