A SIX-year-old Florida boy who left his favourite toy tiger at an airport while he was holidaying with his family has been reunited with the animal - as well as a picture book of the toy’s adventures.
Owen Lake, who was travelling to Houston in Texas with his parents, was distraught on realising he had left the stuffed animal - named Hobbes - at Tampa International Airport.
His mother Amanda phoned and asked the airport if Hobbes had been spotted.
After a few calls around the airport, the toy tiger was found near a children’s play area, and returned to the Airport Operations Centre (AOC), where manager Tony D’Aiuto decided to take the tiger on a tour of the airport while they waited for Owen to come and collect him.
With the help of operations staff and airline officials, Mr D’Aiuto photographed Hobbes in different locations around the airport on his ‘adventure’ - outside the air traffic control tower, buying ice cream, hanging out with the airport firefighters, helping deliver luggage at the airport’s hotel and helping run the Operation Centre.
Mr D’Aiuto told Tampa International’s website that the idea for the picture book was inspired by a similar event at a museum.
He added: “I pitched this idea a couple of months ago after I saw a similar idea where someone took a stuffed lion around a museum. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.”
The AOC manager revealed that he had given up his lunch break to compile the photos, before making a storyline and getting the book printed to leave with Hobbes at the airport’s Lost and Found department.
When Owen and his family returned to Tampa, AOC boss James Parker presented Owen with Hobbes and the book, detailing the tiger’s adventures at the airport.
Ms Lake said she had been reassuring Owen that he would be reunited with Hobbes but admitted being left in the dark when airport staff said the toy tiger was on an ‘adventure’.
She added: “It was very, very sweet. We already told [Owen] over and over that Hobbes was on an adventure so it was nice to get back and show him that Hobbes really had been on an adventure.”
“Thank you to everyone at Tampa International Airport who took such great care of Hobbes. It was such a nice surprise.”