9 February 2024

Family of zoo murder victim Tshewang Choden thanks community for support

| Albert McKnight
Zoo entrance

Bhutanese woman Tshewang Choden died at the National Zoo & Aquarium late last year. Photo: James Coleman.

The family of a woman who was murdered at Canberra’s zoo late last year has thanked “friends far and near” for their support during this tragic time.

Tshewang Choden, a 29-year-old from Bhutan, was stabbed to death in a kitchen area of the Jamala Wildlife Lodge at the National Zoo & Aquarium on 18 December 2023.

The co-worker accused of murdering her, 29-year-old chef Jude Luckshan Wijesinghe, has pleaded not guilty and more details about the allegations against him were brought before the court last month.

After her death, the Australia Bhutanese Association of Canberra (ABAC) launched a traditional Bhutanese semso or consolation drive in order to support her family, which ultimately raised more than $26,000.

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Earlier this week, ABAC released a thank you message from Ms Choden’s bereaved family members.

“We are here to quickly extend our sincere appreciation and thank you to all who have been supporting us in all forms during this difficult time,” the family said.

“Today marks the 49th day since our beloved sister left us in a calamity. Since day one, we have been truly touched by the sincerity of your support, demonstrating a beautiful community unity in honouring the life of our departed sister.

“Your sympathetic help has provided us with immeasurable strength and warmth and we are profoundly grateful.”

The family said that, importantly, the community had generously contributed both personally and to the semso drive, which “was an enormous help to cover the cost of expensive yet profound funeral services”.

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“Without this contribution, we would not have been able to perform decent funeral services, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” they said.

“As we navigate through the days ahead, we take comfort in the memories we shared with our sister and the support we continue to receive from all of you.

“Please know that your kindness has not gone unnoticed, and it has made a significant impact in our grieving hearts.”

Around 6000 Bhutanese people live in the ACT and the community has rallied in the past to provide support after an untimely death and to enable family members to repatriate the deceased.

Jude Luckshan Wijesinghe

Jude Luckshan Wijesinghe has pleaded not guilty to murder and his case remains before the courts. Photo: Facebook.

Police were called to the zoo at 12:50 pm on 18 December over reports of a disturbance, as witnesses had heard loud screams coming from a commercial kitchen area.

The officers arrived to find Ms Choden dead in a storeroom at the back of the kitchen. It is believed she died after suffering stab wounds.

The ACT Magistrates Court has previously heard that Mr Wijesinghe, who has pleaded not guilty to murder, is the only suspect in Ms Choden’s death.

His matter will be heard in court again on 4 April.

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