The Monstrous Tibbles

Odd Fact o’ the Day: Between the two islands that make up New Zealand lies a very small piece of land, Stephens Island. In the late 1800s it was decided to build a lighthouse on the uninhabited isle due to the rocky and treacherous waters (I assume). Land was cleared, a lighthouse was erected, and a lighthouse keeper was found – and tragedy was soon to ensue.

The lighthouse keeper, being a kindly chap, brought his beloved cat, Tibbles, along on his new job to keep him company on the lonely mission. The two fared perfectly peachy on their lonely isle, and it wasn’t long before Tibbles presented his master with a present of a dead bird, as cats will do. Then another Then another.

With alarming speed a pile of dead birds grew, and grew. And grew.

As it turns out, Stephens Island was the last remaining habitat of a rare flightless wren. But by the time the lighthouse keeper had figured out that the birds his beloved TIbbles was bringing to his doorstep were endangered it was too late – Tibbles had eaten the last one.

And thus, Tibbles the Cat is the only creature known to have single-handedly (pawedly?) caused the extinction of an entire species.

(It should be noted that while TIbbles wears the crown and the story is widely regarded as true – and very nearly is – several more of the flightless wrens were found on the island about fifteen years later. Dead, of course. Brought to the doorstep by Tibble’s great-great-great-great grandkits.)

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