Throwing a few hot chips to the seagulls or some bread to the ducks might seem kind, but it can be harmful to them in a number of ways.
Feeding animals in the wild can cause problems ranging from poor nutrition to aggressive behaviour, or even physical injury to the animal.
Some birds and animals, including pelicans and dolphins at popular fishing spots, seagulls at the beach, and kangaroos and emus at campgrounds, associate humans with food and will approach us to beg.
Reinforcing this behaviour by providing food can expose animals to risks including disease, entanglement in fishing lines or nets, or forgetting how to find their own food.
The best thing we can do for our native birds and animals is provide the right habitat. This allows them to source food as part of a natural diet, rather than consuming processed foods like white bread or hot chips.
If you love South Australia’s unique animals, here’s some great ways to interact with them:
- Visit Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills and feed the hand-raised animals with food that’s good for them. You can get close to kangaroos, wallabies and potoroos.
- Plant natives like grevilleas and hakeas in your garden to attract birds, or eucalypts like the manna gum to attract koalas.
- Build a bird, possum or bat box and put it in a tall tree in your garden to give a native animal somewhere safe to call home.
- Grab your binoculars and a bird book and visit the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary – just don’t share your sandwiches.
If you want to learn more about interacting with South Australia’s native wildlife, check out Living with Wildlife.