Gallery: Tributes to popular zoo cat Arnie

Arnie the cat, who was a popular character at Linton Zoo and a regular babysitter for newborn lions,

Arnie the cat, who was a popular character at Linton Zoo and a regular babysitter for newborn lions, has died. - Credit: Contributed

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

Arnie the ginger tomcat died earlier this month at Linton Zoo in Cambridgeshire, where he had taken on roles including pest controller and lion cub babysitter.

A zoo spokesman said: “Arnie came to live with us 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. 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, for which he was receiving appropriate medical support.”

Arnie had many jobs at the zoo and would be seen patrolling the car park and keeping out any other stray cats.

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The spokesman added: “But his most special job of all, and one which he became very well known for with his photographs regularly making International news, was as the babysitter of abandoned newborn animals brought into the house for hand rearing (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.”

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She said the zoo team had been “overwhelmed” by the number of messages received since Arnie’s death was announced on Facebook.

She added: “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 now been posted on pages and websites across the world.”

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