Was it a natural-born mutant or the unearthly creation of genetic engineers? Or was it something else entirely? In October 2017, startling images of a bizarre and apparently never-before-seen animal emerged on the internet in Malaysia, prompting police to launch an investigation.
In fact, Malaysia is notorious as a hub for wildlife trafficking. Endangered species, exotic pets and illegal animal products frequently pass through the country to other destinations in Asia. In July 2017, for example, officials seized nearly a million dollars in ivory tusks and pangolin scales at Kuala Lumpur airport on one single weekend.
As well as a booming trade in contraband wildlife, the country suffers from a lack of institutional transparency. There is no federal Freedom of Information Act in Malaysia, and any document can be classified as an official secret. It was therefore paramount that Malaysian police expose the truth concerning the animal – and make it public.