Student brutally killed echidna 'out of amusement'


Warning: disturbing content

A CHINESE university student killed an echidna by throwing it off a bridge and then pelting it with "rugby ball sized" rocks, a court has been told.

Zhenbo Gao, 24, dropped the echidna from a walkway bridge at Griffith University's Nathan campus to see how it would react, Holland Park Magistrates Court heard.

Gao, who is studying events management, has pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge and will be sentenced this afternoon.

Counsel for the RSPCA, Adrian Braithwaite, asked for Gao to be jailed for six to nine months, but his defence counsel asked for him to be given a community service order or probation.



Chinese student Zhenbo Gao arrives at the Holland Park Magistrates Court. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Chinese student Zhenbo Gao arrives at the Holland Park Magistrates Court. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Mr Braithwaite said Gao appeared to have acted out of amusement.

The RSPCA's statement of facts said university security guards came across Gao flipping over a dead echidna late one night in May last year.

Gao said he had killed the echidna by dropping it from a high walkway bridge to the ground and throwing rocks at it.

Gao said he had found the echidna in bush and had wanted to take it home, according to the RSPCA's statement of facts.

He said he had picked it up, but when it started to fight against him he had dropped it off the bridge onto the concrete below.

Gao told security guards said he then went down to where the echidna had balled up and had dug itself into the ground.

He said he grabbed some rocks and threw them at the echidna and used a stick to pry it out of the ground.

Zhenbo Gao with echidna he killed.
Zhenbo Gao with echidna he killed.

The RSPCA said Gao said he had also chased koalas in the same area.

A wildlife veterinarian found the dead adult echidna had extensive bleeding around the brain and skull, broken quills and extensive bruising.

An autopsy found the echidna died as a result of blunt force trauma.

The echidna Zhenbo Gao killed.
The echidna Zhenbo Gao killed.

When an RSPCA inspector later interviewed Gao he said he had wanted to pick up the echidna because he was curious about the creature.

He said he had wanted to see how it reacted to the fall.

Mr Braithwaite said Gao said he thought the echidna would be in pain and the rocks he threw would damage it, but he did not think it would die.

Gao said he'd thought to use rocks, which were about the size of a rugby ball, to bounce the echidna out of the soil

He said he had previously pelted possums.

Gao's defence lawyer said the "naive" student had not intended to kill the echidna and he had expressed deep remorse for his actions.

He said it was a regrettable end to his curiosity and desire to take the animal home.

The lawyer said Gao's mother, a university professor who had flown from China for his sentence, was shocked and disappointed in his actions.

His father, an associate professor, had threatened to "cut him off", the court was told. Griffith University took immediate action after the incident, barring him from going on campus at night and restricting his attendance at other times.