A race is under way to find two people accused of kidnapping a wild platypus in Brisbane, Australia.
Surveillance cameras captured the pair boarding a train on Tuesday, holding the animal wrapped in a towel.
Police believe they took the platypus from its natural habitat, an offence that can attract a fine of up to A$430,000 ($288,500).
They have grave concerns for the mammal’s health and are urging the duo to turn it in.
The platypus is at risk of becoming sick or dying the longer it is out of its habitat, police say. But they are also concerned about the safety of the two people, as platypuses have a venomous spur that can cause serious injury.
“According to the report that was provided to [authorities], they were showing it off to people on the train, allowing people to pat it,” Queensland Police’s Scott Knowles said.
“The concerns around that would be some of the diseases that people may carry that might impact on the animal and vice versa.”
A person who spoke to the pair told police they said they’d found it on a road and planned to release it, Acting Superintendent Knowles said.
But police are urging the people, who they have since identified but not located – to take it to a vet instead.
Anyone with information about the pair’s whereabouts, or the location of the platypus, is urged to contact police.
Platypus are found all along eastern Australia, in freshwater creeks, slow-moving rivers, lakes and dams. The animals are one of only two types of monotremes – mammals that lay eggs – in the world.