Well, that was the headline in a recent link on the Huffington Post Green section, and who could resist finding out more? As it turns out, the animal in question is one we hadn’t heard of before, which is unusual in and of itself. The photos do indeed show an animal that seems to be smiling, which definitely makes it one of the cutest creatures around if not the happiest.
We discovered that the quokka is a small marsupial related to kangaroos and wallabies and comes from two small islands off the extreme southwest corner of Australia and a small colony on the nearby mainland. Weighing five to ten pounds and standing up to three feet tall (at most), the quokka is a nocturnal herbivore that grazes, and surprisingly, climbs trees and scrubs.
On their island homes, they are safe from predators, but on the mainland of Australia, they are endangered by foxes and cats. Because the populations are so small and isolated, these charming little animals are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered and Threatened Species.
The Huffington Post apparently picked up the link from our friends at the Perth Zoo
, where you can learn more about the quokka and the other animals that are unique to Australia.
For example, have you ever heard of a numbat or a pademelon? The little numbat is endangered and we recommend that you check out this video
of Perth Zoo staff handraising baby numbats, which we guarantee shows one of the cutest animals we've ever seen.