A new study has found that watching footage of the creature, uniquely found in Western Australia, can relieve stress.
Already highlighted as the world’s happiest animal – given their uncanny ability to look as if they are smiling and to pose patiently with humans for their endless selfies – the news is the latest affirmation for the mini marsupial.
The result comes out of a study by Tourism Western Australia (TWA) and University of Leeds conducted into exploring “the stress relieving powers of cute animals”.
High levels of anxiety, blood pressure and heart rates were reduced to healthy levels within 30 minutes of participants viewing content of cute animals, including the little creature hopping around on the sleepy car-free island.
Anxiety levels within the test group reduced by an average of 35%, with some individuals experiencing a fall of almost 50%.
According to TWA, searches for animal videos on YouTube leapt during the week of 22 March, just as lockdown measures in the UK began and have stayed at a higher level ever since (Google Trends), “suggesting that we are naturally inclined to seek out cute animal videos during times of uncertainty and upheaval”.
Western Australia catapulted onto the UK travel agenda when it became the recipient of direct flights from Heathrow to Perth, the state capital, in 2018, flying a two-class service on a Dreamliner for the 17.5 hour journey and visitors to and within the state went on to reach record levels in 2019.
The state is well known for its Indian Ocean beaches – including “Australia’s whitest beach”, Lucky Bay – numerous wine growing regions, outback adventure, and cruising in the Kimberley region of the north; not to mention its many luxury, eco and boutique hotels.
But the cute quokkas reside on the island of Rottnest, a gem of a spot just off the coast from Perth. And now it’s hoped watching them virtually can help people anywhere in the world relax too.
Following the results of the study, Singapore Airlines and Tourism Western Australia are now trialling ‘Quokka TV’ online, offering the public the option of improving their mood by watching quokka content.
The University of Leeds will also be offering students the opportunity to watch cute animal content in a controlled environment before exams.
“The study results are a fantastic reminder that we benefit massively from exploring and enjoying the natural world,” said Elen Thomas, UK market manager for Tourism Western Australia.
“The huge improvement seen in the mood and health of the participants is remarkable and a clear sign that wildlife experiences are important for our wellbeing. We hope to welcome UK visitors to Western Australia soon, in the meantime we hope Quokka TV provides a welcome mood boost.”
It’s not possible to visit Australia at the moment, but when it’s back on the map for Brits, they will be able to visit the new WA Museum Boola Bardip, which opens in Perth in November, and stay on Rottnest Island in luxury addition, Samphire Rottnest, due to open in October.
Meanwhile, Marriott International recently announced it will open a five-star resort in the Margaret River region mid-2023.