$5K Reward in Mysterious Zoo Killing of Tasmanian Devil

Jasper was apparently murdered with chunk of asphalt in Albuquerque, NM
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2014 1:11 PM CDT
$5K Reward in Mysterious Zoo Killing of Tasmanian Devil
A young Tasmanian devil pauses to take a short break from digging around his new exhibit on on Oct. 24, 2013, at the San Diego Zoo.   (AP Photo/Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo)

More security cameras are in place, additional guards are on duty, and a $5,000 reward is being offered for anyone with info leading to an arrest in the killing of Jasper the Tasmanian devil, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Police think the rare marsupial—one of four brought to New Mexico's Albuquerque BioPark Zoo in December from Australia as part of a breeding initiative—was apparently killed with an asphalt chunk found near the scene. Jasper, whose body was discovered Wednesday morning, was said to have died from a bashed skull and brain trauma, according to a vet exam.

There are only about 600 Tasmanian devils alive in captivity; the species has been ravaged by an aggressive cancer, Discover reports. "We have worked long and hard to bring these wonderful creatures to the United States and to provide them with a top-notch environment," the zoo's director tells the Journal. "To have this happen so soon after they arrived here has been very hard on the zoo staffers who work daily with these fascinating animals." (Australians have found a place in their hearts for these little devils.)

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