Forget the Hollywood thriller “Snakes on a Plane”, two commuters in Australia have dished up a platypus on a train.
Police said Thursday they were searching for two people spotted boarding a suburban train with the unusual piece of living luggage — a rare wild platypus swaddled in a towel.
They said they believed the elusive critter had been plucked from its natural habitat in the northern state of Queensland and appealed for its “timely surrender”.
“The concern we have got is obviously the well-being of this animal given it’s been removed from its natural environment,” Queensland police acting superintendent Scott Knowles told reporters Thursday.
Authorities were also worried about the platypus’s would-be adopters — male platypus have venomous spurs that cause excruciating pain when lodged in human flesh.
CCTV photos from Tuesday showed a man in flip-flops strolling along a train platform north of Brisbane while cradling the platypus — about the size of kitten — under his arm.
The man and his female companion then wrapped it in a towel, “patting it and showing it to fellow commuters”, police said.
Under Queensland’s conservation laws it is illegal to take “one or more” platypus from the wild, with a maximum fine of Aus$430,000 (US$288,000).
With a stubby tail like a beaver and the bill of a duck, British scientists famously thought they were being hoaxed when they saw their first platypus specimen in the late 18th century.
Platypus are native to Australia’s freshwater rivers and are part of a rare group of mammals — the monotremes — that lay eggs.
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