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Female staff member found dead from apparent stabbing at National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra

Female staff member found dead from apparent stabbing at National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra
December 18, 2023

A 29-year-old man has been arrested by the Australian Federal Police after the body of a woman was found in a storeroom at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra today.

The woman, a member of the National Zoo and Aquarium staff team, was found dead as a result of stab wounds in a storeroom at a commercial kitchen at the venue.

Emergency services were called to the attraction at lunchtime today after receiving reports of a disturbance. When Police arrived, they found the woman who was deceased – apparently stabbed to death with a knife.

The man arrested was reportedly a co-worker.

Advising that the victim and the suspect were both worked at the Zoo, Detective Superintendent Hall O'Meagher of ACT Criminal Investigations told a press conference that when Police arrived on the scene they found the 29-year-old woman dead and that it was apparent she had been stabbed.

He advised “it's apparent at this stage that the deceased died as a result of stab wounds.

"A post-mortem examination will be conducted in coming days, but at this stage it looks like she's been stabbed to death with a knife.

"The knife was located at the scene."

Detective Superintendent O'Meagher said police do not believe there are any direct witnesses to the incident, but noted that there were witnesses nearby at the time who have spoken to Police.

He explained "witnesses have described loud screams from around the commercial kitchen area, and they responded to that.

"The deceased was located in situ at a storeroom out the back of the commercial kitchen within the zoo."

Detective Superintendent O'Meagher informed the press conference “it's unknown at this point in time if they had any further relationship outside of that work arrangement.”

He went on to state that the suspect was in a stable condition in hospital with what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds.

He said no charges had been laid at this stage, and police were conducting inquires into the background of both the victim and the suspect, adding "a homicide investigation has commenced and further inquires will include an examination of the scene forensically, talking to witnesses, and, ultimately, a post-mortem examination that will confirm the cause of death of this woman.

"The investigating police have spoken to the family of the deceased, and our thoughts are with them at this very difficult time for them."

He said the Zoo would be "closed for some time" as Police carried out their forensic examination of the scene.

On its Facebook page, the National Zoo and Aquarium said it had "experienced a tragic event on Monday involving staff members", adding “due to the incredibly sad events, both the zoo and Jamala will be closed tomorrow in respect of all those affected directly or indirectly.

It said tours and encounters would be cancelled on Tuesday, with hopes the zoo would be ready to resume operations on Wednesday.

Police are urging anyone with information that could assist police to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website, and quote reference 7623644.

Image: Police were called to the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra this afternoon after reports of a disturbance. Credit: National Zoo and Aquarium.

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