Tribute to little Moggy cat goes viral

Arnie with baby lion cub Zara.

Arnie with baby lion cub Zara. - Credit: Archant

TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular cat who had become a minor celebrity at an East Anglian zoo

Arnie with a moorhen.

Arnie with a moorhen. - Credit: Archant

The Simmons family, who run the wildlife park on the Uttlesford border, posted the tribute on the tourist attraction’s Facebook page when former stray Arnie passed away peacefully earlier this month.

The kitty who acted as foster father to lion cubs was a hit at the zoo from the day he arrived in 2000.

“He was a stray who made an immediate impression on all of us. Arnie had the most wonderful character, he quickly settled in with our two other zoo cats and was definitely here to stay,” said Kim.

“We believed he was a young adult at the time of his arrival. Over the last year or so, Arnie had developed arthritis in his back legs along with other age related problems.”

Arnie – named after Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger - became an attraction in his own right: welcoming visitors and offering unique guided tours to the chosen few; acting as zoo pest controller; and “the role of cheering up anyone feeling unwell, fed up or depressed”.

However his most eye-catching job was as babysitter to abandoned, new born animals brought into the Simmons’ home for hand rearing.

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Kim added: “He would occasionally find his own baby rabbit or moorhen chick and bring it home for us too.

“His favourite was of course lion cubs. Arnie babysat all four of our adult lions when they were cubs and some of their offspring too, the last one he helped out with was Zara, first cub of Zuri and Safina.

“Never did we imagine when we posted a tribute to our dear old Arnie cat on the Linton Zoo Facebook, that one little ginger moggy would touch the hearts of so many people across the world.

“We have been overwhelmed by the number of messages received over the last couple of weeks mainly via Facebook.

“From our Facebook tribute originally intended for the ‘Arnie fans’ who have loved and known him from their visits to the zoo, or who have seen his pictures in the local and national press and TV over the years, the tribute has been posted on Facebook pages, websites across the world and even MSN United States!

“Some sites have told us the pictures and story of Arnie have had more shares, likes and comments than any of their other news items.”

As a result she is planning an “Arnie encore” for fans in the next few weeks, collating his pictures and tales.