Seems improbable, doesn’t it? This loveable furry guy is not, despite all appearances, a prototype for the ever-so-cutesy Ewoks about which George Lucas expected us to suspend all disbelief; it’s a real live mammal. A marsupial, to be more specific, and one that lives only within a narrow range, including a couple of islands, in south-west Australia. It’s called a Quokka!
Until a few days ago, I’d never heard of such a thing, but they’re all over the internet, usually depicted in selfies taken by tourists. They appear not to fear people, perhaps owing to an absence of natural predators, and on the photographic evidence they always seem quite happy to hang out while you snap some shots:
They’re a lot like little kangaroos, but unlike their famously pugilistic cousins, who always seem apt to punch you right in the kisser, these little guys behave as if they’re as happy as they look. It’s just an evolutionary quirk that shaped their mouths that way; they aren’t really smiling. Except, yes they frigging well are smiling, and I don’t care what science dictates. C’mon, tell me this agreeable little fellow isn’t grinning at us:
In the odd photo, they can perhaps seem a little bit indifferent, but that’s generally as sour-pussed as they get. At their most cross, they can even go so far as to look momentarily nonplussed, as if having spotted an old and long-absent buddy across the street – or at least it looks like him. That’s him, isn’t it? Can it be?
Is that Quincy over there? Hey Quincy! Quincy Quokka, how the hell are you, y’old such and such you?
Any world that can cough out a Quokka by pure chance of random evolution just has to be at least partly OK, right? Yes, we also get ‘gators and black widow spiders, but just when you’re fixing to conclude that the Earth is a cruel and sordid place, full of heartless predators, terrified victims, and not a great deal else, it up and chucks one of these at you.
They’re just as gentle as you’d expect. They eat leaves, mostly. They’ll take a cracker, if you’re offering.
Who doesn’t like a Quokka?
A big grump, that’s who.