'Special guy': Community mourns 'king of Queens Park'

Ari, Ben and Lochie Jagger with Junior in Queens Park's winter gardens. Photo: Johannah Jagger
Ari, Ben and Lochie Jagger with Junior in Queens Park's winter gardens. Photo: Johannah Jagger
If you were to visit Queens Park’s winter garden on a sunny Invercargill afternoon, you would likely be approached by a ginger cat politely inquiring about a head scratch.

His name was Junior, he was six years old, and he had a social media following that would be the envy of a small-town influencer.

The pet’s owner created the public page for community members to post pictures and comments about Junior, “who loves spending his days making friends and playing in Invercargill’s beautiful Queens Park”.

“He is well fed and much loved ... He just loves socialising.”

The page had more than 2200 members who frequently posted their interactions with Junior - occasionally multiple times a day.

Yesterday, Junior’s owner posted to the page that the beloved feline had been struck by a car and had died.

By mid-afternoon, the post had received nearly 800 reactions and hundreds of comments mourning the loss.

“He was a special guy, take solace in the fact that he was so loved and touched so many lives,” wrote one commenter.

“He will definitely be missed by so many! He will forever be known as the king of Queens Park!” wrote another.

Several commenters suggested arranging a small statue of Junior to be placed in Queens Park near or in the winter gardens, an area Junior was frequently seen at, with one suggesting a GoFundMe be created to raise funds.

Erin McNaught with Junior. Photo: Supplied
Erin McNaught with Junior. Photo: Supplied
Erin McNaught told The New Zealand Herald that she had loved reading about Junior’s antics and seeing the lovely photos of him that people were posting while going through cancer treatments for the past year.

“I was so pleased to finally meet him a few weeks ago and have a cuddle. He will be sadly missed by his family and fans.”

Johannah Jagger said her family were cycling through the park when they met Junior, and she was surprised how receptive he was to the enthusiasm of her children Lochie and Ari.

“I thought he would run away, but he just hung around for their pets ... I was just amazed that he was falling asleep while my two enthusiastic toddlers were going after him. So he was pretty cute,” she said.

“We would have liked to have gone back and visited him, so it’s a real shame.”

Tom Morton said Junior was an amazing cat.

“Often I would see toddlers running and yelling, Junior would happily wait [for them] to pick him up as if a toy,” he said.