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This Day in History

World History

Thursday, November 15, 2001. :   A stowaway cat nicknamed "Colin's" accidentally begins an epic journey from Port Taranaki in New Zealand to South Korea.

     A stray cat nicknamed "Colin's" made international fame when she accidentally stowed away on a tanker at Port Taranaki, in New Plymouth, New Zealand, bound for South Korea, 9,600km away. Named after the manager of the Port Taranaki tanker terminal in New Plymouth, New Zealand, who originally owned her, Colin's Cat had lived at Westgate Port's tanker terminal, Port Taranaki, after her owner moved on nine years earlier, and soon became popular with the employees.

On 15 November 2001, a South Korean sailor took Colin's on board the tanker "Tomiwaka" to feed her, and both employee and cat fell asleep: when they woke, the tanker was already sailing. The Port staff quickly missed their mascot moggy, checking immediately with all tankers that had visited the port to see whether the cat was on board. After she was located, a concerted effort was organised to reunite Colin's with her numerous owners. The tanker captain, Chang Seong-mo, emailed photos of her back to the port to reassure staff that she was alive and had even found her "sea-legs".

The Whiskas pet food company played a crucial role in reuniting Colin's with the Port staff, organising flights for Westgate's duty superintendent Gordon MacPherson to collect the cat in Korea and fly her back to New Zealand. On 4 December 2001, Colin's arrived in Yeosu, South Korea; quarantine officers in South Korea and New Zealand allowed the cat to return home immediately.

For many years, Colin's cat enjoyed a peaceful retirement at the port, guaranteed a lifetime supply of pet food from Whiskas, and yearly veterinary checks funded by the pet food company. She died at the age of 16 on 15 May 2007, and was buried in the garden close to the entrance to the watch house, which was her favourite spot. A plaque commemorates the unusual story of Colin's.

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