Kangaroos that frequent the grounds near Morisset Psychiatric Hospital just outside of Sydney have become addicted to kangaroo "junk food" like carrots and are attacking tourists to get their fix.
Despite signs warning people not to feed the kangaroos human food, tourists use carrots and other foods that are not part of the animals' natural diet to lure them in for petting and photos.
"If they see a carrot and they've been fed a carrot 100 times before by a tourist, then they're going to come up and take that carrot," Andrew Daly, an animal keeper at the Australian Reptile Park in Sydney, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.
"In doing so they can be quite aggressive. They can kick, they can scratch with their front paws and do quite a bit of damage, especially when they're trying to get those foods that they really like, or could be addicted to," he said, adding that for a kangaroo, a carrot is high in sugar and "like having a chocolate bar."
As the signs at the site say, human foods, such as processed foods, are detrimental to the kangaroos' health.
The hospital has become a popular spot for tourists to come and see kangaroos due to its close proximity to the center of Sydney.
Shane Lewis, who runs a shuttle bus service for tourists between the hospital and the local station, said people got kicked and scratched on a regular basis.
"One lady got 17 stitches in her face from eye to chin," Lewis said.
"I've even seen some silly people feeding them McDonald's, KFC, corn chips, oats and there are some foods they are very aggressive for," Lewis told the ABC. "There was a guy who got his stomach gashed open and he wasn't even feeding them but … They'd been to McDonald's 10 minutes before, so whether they still had the food smell on them I have no idea, but for some reason the kangaroo took to him."
Local lawmaker Greg Piper, who has raised the issue in the New South Wales state parliament, posted a video on Facebook on Monday outlining the risks associated with getting too close to the kangaroos.
"There's a high risk that someone's going to be severely injured," he told Sydney's 2GB radio station.
In the Facebook video, Piper said that while the kangaroos have become a "local tourism phenomenon ... especially for backpackers, these are wild animals, equipped with long, sharp claws and they do injure people from time to time."