TAMPA, Fla. — It’s not much fun being stuck at an airport — unless you happen to be a stuffed tiger.
When a 6-year-old boy recently left his beloved toy at Tampa International Airport, a member of the staff had a better idea than just to leave it languishing in the lost-and-found department.
Operations manager Tony D’Auito whisked Hobbes the tiger off on a grand tour of the airport, snapping photos as they went.
Hobbes’ adventures took in a view of the air traffic control tower, a game of Jenga in the USO, a stop for gelato and a snooze in a hammock by a hotel pool.
This all happened while Owen, the handmade toy’s owner, was on vacation with his parents in Houston.
His mother, Amanda Lake, had anxiously called the lost-and-found department to report the loss of Hobbes, who shares a name with the tiger in the popular comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.”
Staff members informed her Hobbes had been found near a play area, but she and her son remained oblivious to the fun the tiger was having in their absence.
That changed when the family landed back in Tampa on June 11.
D’Auito had put Hobbes’ airport wanderings into a hardbound photo book that was waiting for Owen, along with the errant tiger.
“It was very, very sweet,” Lake said in an airport news release. “We already told him 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.”
D’Auito said he’d been waiting for a chance to do something like this.
“I pitched this idea a couple of months ago after I saw a similar idea where someone took a stuffed lion around a museum,” he said. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity.”