A man in Australia has been charged after allegedly taking a wild platypus from a waterway, wrapping it in a towel, then taking it on a train and to a shopping center where members of the public were allowed to pet it.
Queensland Police allege that the platypus was taken from a waterway in Morayfield on April 4 at around 11 am, with two people seen boarding a train with the animal then taking it into a shopping center in Caboolture. Police were told that the platypus was then released into the Caboolture River. Unlawfully taking a platypus from the wild carries a maximum penalty of AU$431,250 (around US$288,500).
Platypuses are nocturnal and shy, with Queensland Police explaining that “the animal may become sick, be diseased or die the longer is it out of the wild and should not be fed or introduced to a new environment.” They also advised that “If you are lucky enough to see a platypus in the wild, keep your distance.”
Queensland Police also say, “It may also have venomous spurs which can cause significant injury to people and animals.” These spurs are present on male platypuses, and being on the receiving end is said to be excruciatingly painful.
"According to the report that was provided to [the police], they were showing it off to people on the train, allowing people to pat it," Scott Knowles of Queensland Police reportedly said. "The concerns around that would be some of the diseases that people may carry that might impact on the animal and vice versa."
According to an update on April 6, a 26-year-old man has been charged with “one count each of taking protected animal class 1 offence and restriction on keeping or using taken protected animal class 1 offence,” and a woman has spoken with the police.
The whereabouts of the platypus are unknown at the time of writing.