A Sri Lankan sous chef has been charged with murder over the alleged stabbing death of a young female colleague in a kitchen storeroom at a Canberra zoo.

Jude Wijesinghe, 29, was arrested on Monday night and taken to hospital under police guard with “significant” self-inflicted stab wounds.

News.com.au confirmed that the victim is a 29-year-old Bhutanese national.

ATC Policing confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Wijesinghe had been charged with murder, the report said.

“ACT Policing homicide detectives have today charged a 29-year-old man with one count of murder during a bedside hearing following an incident at the National Zoo & Aquarium yesterday,” an ACT Policing spokesperson confirmed.

“The man was refused bail, and will next appear in court on 4 April 2023.”

The woman, who has not yet been identified, was found at 12.50pm in a commercial kitchen at the National Zoo & Aquarium of Yarralumla.

Police stormed Wijesinghe’s apartment in Oaks Estate around 2pm and spent hours inside, neighbours told Daily Mail Australia.

“He’s been here about one to two years,” one resident told the publication. “Before that, there was a group of guys living in there.”

“I can’t believe it,” another said. “It’s all a bit of a shock.”

Wijesinghe was a chef at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, which is part of the National Zoo & Aquarium, and regularly shared snaps of his culinary creations to social media.

It’s understood he migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka. He studied in Adelaide before working in kitchens across the country.

Metho Dema, First Secretary at the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Canberra today told news.com.au the victim is from Bhutan.

She added the close-knit Bhutanese community was deeply affected by the young woman’s death.

“The Embassy is in close contact with the bereaved family of the deceased as well as the Police and providing consular support,” Ms Dema said.

“The close-knit Bhutanese community in Canberra is deeply affected by this tragic incident involving a member of our community and is rallying around the bereaved family during this very difficult period.

“On behalf of the family and our community, we request that the media respect their privacy and allow them space to grieve this extremely tragic and sad loss.”

ACT Policing Detective Superintendent of Criminal Investigations Hall O’Meagher said witnesses heard “loud screams” around the kitchen area and responded to the disturbance.

“A homicide investigation has commenced and further inquiries will include an examination of the scene forensically, talking to witnesses and a post-mortem examination that will confirm the cause of death of this woman,” he said.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.”

The knife police allege was used in the stabbing was found at the scene.

Photos from the scene show an extensive police response, with investigators interviewing people at the zoo.

The incident was contained to the zoo and there is no further threat to the ACT community, the police said.

The man is recovering in hospital under police guard, according to News.com.au.

Police do not know if the pair were in a relationship and are investigating this line of inquiry.

They added that the zoo would be closed “for some time”.

The National Zoo & Aquarium is privately owned 19-hectare zoo and aquarium at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin next to the Scrivener Dam.

The zoo is known for having the largest collection of big cats in Australia, including, until recently, the only tigon (a tiger, lion cross breed) in Australasia. 

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