Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Chinese business student in court over brutal echidna death at Griffith University

Chinese business student in court over brutal echidna death at Griffith University

Zhenbo Gao, 24, who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, was ordered to be on probation for 18 months and perform 180 hours of community service.
Acting Magistrate Robert Turra barred Gao from buying or possessing an animal for five years, but he did not record the conviction.
Mr Turra said Gao engaged in cruel conduct on a defenceless animal and it deserved strong denunciation.
He said a veterinarian who conducted an autopsy on the dead echidna said it would have endured significant pain and suffering, as well as fear and terror.
Mr Turra said he considered Gao to be particularly naive, with little life experience, but it was concerning that he had expressed naivety and ignorance of the offence.
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. 
Earlier today, Holland Park Magistrates Court heard Gao dropped the echidna from a walkway bridge at Griffith University’s Nathan campus to see how it would react.
Counsel for the RSPCA, Adrian Braithwaite, had asked for Gao to be jailed for six to nine months.
RSPCA prosecutor Tracey Jackson this afternoon expressed disappointment in the sentence.
“Sometimes we have to question what exactly you’ve got to do to an animal to end up in jail or at least end up with a term of imprisonment,” Ms Jackson said.
“We would have liked to have seen a sentence that adequately reflects the seriousness of the offence.
“This was a defenceless animal. There was no explanation for what was done to the animal, other than pure curiosity. That, in my view, is fairly alarming.
“... This was totally unprovoked, it was totally gratuitous and it was done, reportedly, for reasons of curiosity.
“We don’t accept that naivety and ignorance is an excuse for this kind of offending. Everyone knows that you don’t treat animals that way, everybody.”
Zhenbo Gao with echidna he killed.
Zhenbo Gao with echidna he killed.
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.
The echidna Zhenbo Gao killed.
The echidna Zhenbo Gao 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.
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.

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