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Hashtag flying fox: 'It's always Halloween in Australia'
This paper examines the nexus between flying foxes and new media in order to show how new media can might be used to enhance a better understanding of the plight of flying foxes and therefore help with their conservation. Flying foxes have been much maligned throughout the European history of Australia, particularly in Queensland. Perceived as a threat to farmers, these native mammals were actively killed with the sanction of the colonial then State authorities. Even today, flying foxes face criticism from elements of the media and public about their rights to be protected in their habitats where human settlement has encroached. The journalistic media still paint flying foxes as a danger to the public. Firstly the paper contextualizes the discourse around flying foxes and humans by briefly exploring the history of the battle between horticulturists and flying foxes, and later of the resistance by some humans in accepting flying fox colonies camping in urban centres mainly because of perceived health risks. The paper then explores a case study using 496 Twitter conversations to gauge current public feeling attitudes towards flying foxes, revealing the potential of this form of new media to build community and educate and inform the public, giving the animal a more positive perception in our human-animal relations. This study concludes that through our Twitter analysis there is significant positive sentiment for the conservation of flying foxes in the community, and there are opportunities for further positive attitudes towards flying foxes to be built upon via this new media platform.