News | 19 August 2022

Friday Five: Furry icons of Wellington

One thing is clear in the capital – we love animals! From Mittens to King Dick, there are many local icons that have become celebrities in the city. Check out some of these well-known characters, past and present.

King Dick the Lion from the Wellington City Archives.
Wellington City Council Archives, 2020/11-KD-4

1. King Dick

This male lion was gifted to the city in 1906, and became one of the most beloved animals in his lifetime. The city had no zoo at that point, and King Dick became the first exhibit. Members of the Zoological society said that he used to recognise them and would roll over to have his tummy rubbed! 

Mittens the cat.

2. Mittens

This famous feline roamed the streets of Wellington, and became a celebrity from all his adventures across the capital. You could often see Mittens wandering into local shops, or going for walks around town. Mittens was so loved by many, that he was even given the keys to the city! Even though he has made the move to Tāmaki Makaurau, we still love and miss him.

Sculpture of Mrs Chippy.

3. Mrs Chippy 

Visitors often flock to Karori Cemetery to see the monument of this kitty, which sits on the grave of Harry ‘Chippy’ McNeish. He was a carpenter on board the expedition ship, Endurance, of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antartic Expedition of 1914-17.

McNeish had brought Mrs Chippy on board the ship, and the kitty was well-loved by crew members. On the journey, Shackleton ordered for Mrs Chippy to be shot, which McNeish never forgave him for. When McNeish passed away later in life, Mrs Chippy was sculpted to sit on his grave, so they could be together. 

Paddy the Wanderer.
Paddy the Wanderer 1935 courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library

4. Paddy the Wanderer

Paddy was a well-known figure around the docks during the 1930s after his young owner died, and he became an unofficial mascot for the locals working on the wharf – and beyond. A life-sized model of Paddy is on display at the Wellington Museum, and a plaque and drinking fountain using stones from Waterloo Bridge in London were erected in his honour on Queens Wharf.

Cat sitting on a chair with sunglasses on.

5. Colin Feral 

This young kitty is known as the Chief Temperament Tester of Moa Point Dog Shelter! He has the important role of testing how dogs react to him, to see if they are cat friendly before they are adopted. Colin takes his job very seriously, and is damn good at it too!

Watch out each Friday for a fun list of five great activities to do, places to explore, or things to discover in our awesome city.