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Who is killing platypuses in Australia?

platypus

[DIGEST: IFL Science, Washington Post, Guardian Australia, ABC News]

It might be one of the world’s saddest whodunits.

Someone in Australia is killing duck-billed platypuses—the rare, semi-aquatic creature that is the only mammal on earth to lay eggs—and dumping their bodies in Albury Botanic Gardens in New South Wales.

The first dead platypus was found by a gardener at Albury in March; the other two were found by visitors. Two of the carcasses had been decapitated with a sharp object.

“As far as we are concerned it’s not a fox, and as far as the vet is concerned it is not a fox,” Hazel Cook, of the local branch of the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service, told Guardian Australia. “We would love to be proved wrong. We would love to think that a human would not do this sort of thing. But I don’t think we will be.”

The Humane Society of Australia is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever is responsible for what officials are calling an “appalling” and “brutal” act of cruelty.

“We thought at first that they might have been caught accidentally by someone with illegal nets in the river,” Cook said, “but then why take them to the gardens? Why not just throw the bodies in the river? And why take the heads? We still don’t know what they’ve done with the heads.”

The aquatic, carnivorous animals would not have been at the botanic gardens on their own, as the park does not have a water feature. Platypuses spend 30 percent more energy walking across land than swimming through water, so walking is not a preferred method of

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    Kat Merck is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. An amateur naturalist who stud... keep reading