Simba, an orphaned kitten from Lebanon, has had one simply incredible journey to get to Canada.
LEBANON / GREECE / CANADA – To start, the kitten was thrown in the garbage and left to die after its mother, another stray cat, was hit by a car in a village in southern Lebanon.
It was one of two that lived out of a total of five kittens. The vacationing Ibrahim family of east Windsor attempted to save both in June but only Simba, named after the orphaned cub in the Lion King movie, survived.
Then came the ultimate travel test: just how to get two-month-old Simba home to Windsor. Nada Machhour-Ibrahim explained that her four children who are ages 7 to 13 had absolutely fallen in love with the kitten they helped save by feeding it with a syringe. She and her husband said to the kids that it was unlikely the kitten would be allowed on a plane but drove an hour to see a vet in Lebanon and get the necessary shots and paperwork.
The first flight out of Beirut went just fine. Problems arose in Athens, Greece as the family waited to catch an Air Canada flight home Aug. 17. A Greek airport official explained that she couldn’t skirt the rules: the cat couldn’t board the plane because it was too young (it couldn’t get a rabies shot) and in addition, didn’t have the right carrier to fit under the seat.
And so, the other passengers boarded the plane as the kids cried and pleaded with officials.
Of all people, an Air Canada co-pilot came to the rescue. He asked about the problem and said that the kitten could come on the plane and hugged the kids to reassure them, Machhour-Ibrahim stated. The family paid a $75 fee and $35 for a carrier for the cat and got on the plane to Toronto.
“It’s like in a movie. Like, you know, the co-pilot comes to us and all this emotion happening.”
Zena Ibrahim, who is just 12, said the scariest part was thinking they would never see Simba again.
“He’s very precious. And I think it’s incredible that he came all the way from Lebanon to Canada and it was just an incredible journey for him and all of us.”
Machhour-Ibrahim praised the Air Canada co-pilot for his kindness and understanding. She was considering missing the flight or perhaps even giving the kitten to an airport employee who had shown an interest while they were waiting for their flight.
“If it was not for him we would have stayed in Greece. We would have stuck with the cat. I don’t know.”
Simba is now being treated like a king. It cost approximately $500 to save the kitten and cover the airline fees and vet bill.
“I would say he’s a lucky cat.”
Machhour-Ibrahim noted that some people question why they bothered trying to save a kitten while on vacation.
“When you know you can help and you don’t help, it’s a huge burden on you.”