Three platypus carcasses were found in Australia in recent weeks, two of which were decapitated, Australia's Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) told The Guardian.
The platypuses were found in the Albury Botanic Gardens, a popular tourist attraction. They were at a healthy weight when they were killed, which may imply they were caught at the nearby Murray River, a natural platypus habitat. The first carcass was found in early March. Officials still don't know who is responsible.
WIRES called the killings a "horrific act of cruelty."
It's illegal to kill platypuses, which were once hunted for pelts. Those found guilty could face an $11,000 (Australian) fine or six months in prison. But the recent kills left the platypuses' fur intact, leaving authorities baffled.
These are just gentle little fellas who do no harm. It's lovely to see that Australians are so upset about it. We want people to be angry.
The Humane Society International Australia has offered a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the person or people involved, The Washington Post reports.
WIRES spokeswoman Hazel Cook said the platypuses were clearly killed by humans. While foxes, birds of prey and crocodiles all prey on the animals, Cook pointed out cuts in the spine that were far too deliberate for an animal.