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R.1, R.2, W.2, W.4, W.7


Saved by Selfies?

People are rushing to Australia to take photos with the furry little quokka. And that might end up saving its life. 

Campbell Jones (Quokka); via Instagram (Chris Hemsworth)

    It’s not easy to survive in the animal world. Bigger creatures try to eat you for dinner. Humans cut down the forests you call home. 

    But one little animal has found a good way to stay alive: Make friends with tourists. Dine on the food they leave behind. And most important, smile for the camera.

    Meet the quokka [KWAHK-uh], internet star.

    Life can be hard in the animal world. Bigger creatures try to eat you. Humans cut down the forests you call home.

But one little animal has found a good way to stay alive: Make friends with tourists. Eat the food they leave behind. And smile for the camera.

Meet the quokka [KWAHK-uh].

    It’s not easy to survive in the animal world. Larger creatures try to eat you for dinner, and humans cut down the forests you call home.

    But one little animal has discovered an effective survival strategy: Make friends with tourists, dine on the food they leave behind, and—most important of all—smile for the camera.

    Meet the quokka [KWAHK-uh], internet star.

Happiest Animal in the World

    Quokkas are tiny cousins of kangaroos. They’re about the size of house cats. They live on the western coast of Australia. And recently, they haven’t been doing well. Wildfires are destroying their forest homes. Foxes and wild cats are hunting them down.

    Today, most quokkas can be found in one place—Rottnest Island. Rottnest is a half-hour ferry ride from the Australian coast. It’s home to about 10,000 quokkas. That’s more than 80 percent of all the quokkas left in the world.

    Quokkas have been living quietly on Rottnest for hundreds of years. 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 almost 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.

    Quokkas are cousins of kangaroos. They’re about as big as house cats. They live on the western coast of Australia. Lately, they’ve had problems. Wildfires have damaged their forest homes. Foxes and wild cats have hunted them down.

    Today, most quokkas can be found on Rottnest Island. The island is near the Australian coast. It’s home to about 10,000 quokkas. 

Quokkas have lived on Rottnest for hundreds of years. For a long time, they lived quietly. In 2013, things changed. An online newspaper posted pictures of a quokka. The quokka looked like it was smiling. The article called it the “happiest animal in the world.”

Soon the island had many visitors. Thousands came every week. Many took selfies with quokkas. Thor star Chris Hemsworth was one of them. His quokka selfie got millions of likes on Instagram.

    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.

Is Fame Helping or Hurting?

    Some experts worry that fame will be bad for the quokkas. Wild animals can feel stress when humans get too close. And the Rottnest quokkas are feasting on food scraps from the tourists. These new snacks aren’t as healthy as their typical diet of leaves and grass. 

    But overall, tourism seems to be good for the Rottnest quokkas. Food is hard to find on the island in the dry summer months. The tourists bring a steady supply year-round. So right now, the quokkas in tourist areas are actually healthier than quokkas in the forest. 

    Ten years ago, few people had heard of quokkas. Now, there are more than 20,000 quokka selfies on Instagram. Millions of people know these critters are in danger—and want quokkas to survive. That makes life a little easier on Rottnest Island.

    Some experts are worried. They say that fame could harm the quokkas. Wild animals can feel stress when humans get too close. And the Rottnest quokkas are eating food scraps from humans. These scraps are not as healthy as the leaves and grass they normally eat.

But overall, the Rottnest quokkas are doing great. In the summer, the island is dry. Food is hard to find. The tourists bring food all year. So right now, the quokkas in tourist areas are healthier than other quokkas.

Ten years ago, few people had heard of quokkas. Now, these animals are famous. There are thousands of quokka selfies on Instagram. Many people care about quokkas. That makes life easier on Rottnest Island. 

    Some experts worry that fame will harm the quokkas. Wild animals can feel stress when humans get too close. And the Rottnest quokkas are feasting on food scraps from the tourists. These new snacks aren’t as healthy as their typical diet of leaves and grass.

    But overall, the Rottnest quokkas are thriving. Food is scarce on the island in the dry summer months, but the tourists bring a steady supply year-round. So right now, the quokkas in tourist areas are actually healthier than quokkas in the forest.

    Ten years ago, few people had heard of quokkas. Now, there are more than 20,000 quokka selfies on Instagram. Millions of people know these critters are in danger—and those people want quokkas to survive. That makes life a little easier on Rottnest Island. 

ACTIVITY: 
How have selfies helped quokkas?

Write a paragraph to answer this question. Get started by using facts from the article to finish the sentences below. 

Write a paragraph to answer this question. Get started by using facts from the article to finish the sentences below. 

Write a paragraph to answer this question. Get started by using facts from the article to finish the sentences below. 

Topic Sentence: Thanks to selfies ___                  

The main idea of your paragraph: What has changed for the Rottnest Island quokkas?

Topic Sentence: Thanks to selfies ___                  

The main idea of your paragraph: What has changed for the Rottnest Island quokkas?

Topic Sentence: Thanks to selfies ___                  

The main idea of your paragraph: What has changed for the Rottnest Island quokkas?

Detail 1: Ten years ago, ___                          
How many people had heard of quokkas?

Detail 1: Ten years ago, ___                          
How many people had heard of quokkas?

Detail 1: Ten years ago, ___                          
How many people had heard of quokkas?

Detail 2: Then, in 2013, ___
What happened that made people more aware of quokkas?

Detail 2: Then, in 2013, ___
What happened that made people more aware of quokkas?

Detail 2: Then, in 2013, ___
What happened that made people more aware of quokkas?

Detail 3: Soon thousands of people were traveling to Rottnest Island to ___
What did many people do when they visited the island? 

Detail 3: Soon thousands of people were traveling to Rottnest Island to ___
What did many people do when they visited the island? 

Detail 3: Soon thousands of people were traveling to Rottnest Island to ___
What did many people do when they visited the island? 

Conclusion: Now the quokkas have plenty of people who care about them—as well as ___
What do tourists leave behind when they visit Rottnest Island?

Conclusion: Now the quokkas have plenty of people who care about them—as well as ___
What do tourists leave behind when they visit Rottnest Island?

Conclusion: Now the quokkas have plenty of people who care about them—as well as ___
What do tourists leave behind when they visit Rottnest Island?

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