A man has been fined $4,000 Australian dollars ($3,000 USD) for kicking a quokka — a marsupial similar in appearance to a small kangaroo and often described as the world’s happiest animal.
Harrison McPherson, 20, was filmed by his friend, Corey James, 21, kicking the creature so hard that it crashed into a wall.
McPherson’s first kick missed the quokka, which is about the size of a domestic cat, but with a second kick he sent it flying as his friend laughed.
The incident, which was posted online, took place in February on Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia. It is the last remaining major refuge of the animals, which interact easily with humans.
McPherson and James had attended a music festival on the island. When the nine seconds of footage of the assault emerged on Snapchat, it triggered a collective outcry in Australia, with more than 24,000 people signing a petition calling for the court to impose the maximum five-year jail sentence for the attack.
Members of the public named and shamed McPherson and James, leading to their arrest. The pair were apparently sent death threats.
In March, James, as cameraman, was fined $3,500 Australian dollars for his part in the attack.
McPherson, as the prime attacker, pleaded guilty to ill-treating the quokka in Fremantle magistrates’ court last month. His sentencing was adjourned until yesterday while the court considered a psychological report.
His lawyer said that he had been under stress at the time of the attack after a friend died in a shark attack.
Peter Malone, the magistrate, said a significant factor in determining McPherson’s sentence was the fate of the quokka. The animal was never found and the extent of the injuries it suffered is not known.