Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece pose with a wombat at Caversham Wildlife Centre on December 30, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo: VCG)
SYDNEY, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- While taking selfies with Australia's cute and cuddly wildlife may seem like a harmless perk of visiting the country, authorities on Maria Island in the State of Tasmania on Thursday reminded visitors not to get too close to the animals as it can cause them stress.
The island's rotund and whimsical wombats, a type of marsupial cousin of the Koala, have become choice candidates for taking selfies with in past years but experts say that the numbers of tourists, which has doubled in the past decade, is becoming overwhelming.
Island officials have gone so far as to devise a pledge to be displayed at gateway ferry terminals, reminding visitors that the animals are wild and not necessarily comfortable in close proximity to humans.
In part the pledge states "Wombats, when you trundle past me, I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you or try and pick you up."
As well as wombats, Maria Island boasts breathtaking natural beauty and a range of other residents including Cape Barren geese, Forester kangaroos, Bennett's wallabies and Tasmanian devils.
East Coast Tourism chief executive Ruth Dowty told local media that she understands that visitors do not mean any harm to the wombats and simply are not aware of the effect that they are having.
"The tourists are in love with the wombats -- so in love that we need to give them some education about how to interact with them."