Quokkas are tiny cousins of kangaroos. They’re about the size of house cats, and they live on the western coast of Australia. Recently, quokkas have faced some difficulties: Wildfires have destroyed their forest homes, and foxes and wild cats have hunted them down.
Today, most quokkas can be found in one place on Earth—Rottnest Island. Rottnest is a half-hour ferry ride from the Australian coast. It’s home to about 10,000 quokkas, roughly 80 percent of all the quokkas left in the world.
Quokkas have been living quietly on Rottnest for centuries—but now, the entire world has discovered them. In 2013, an online newspaper posted pictures of a quokka. The furry little creature looked like it was smiling. The article called it the “happiest animal in the world.”
Before long, Rottnest Island had 15,000 visitors a week. Many visitors were there for one reason: to take a selfie with a quokka. Actor Chris Hemsworth—the star of Thor—was one of them. He posted his quokka selfie on Instagram and got more than 4 million likes.