A cat has been hired as the newest employee of a US airport to help calm anxious passengers.
Duke Ellington Morris, better known as “Duke,” is the newest member of San Francisco International Airport’s “Wag Brigade.”
The appointment of the 14-year-old black and white cat was announced by the airport’s Twitter account, with the caption: “Purrlease welcomes our newest Wag Brigade member, Duke Ellington Morris!”
Below, a photo of a professional Duke wearing a tiny pilot’s hat and shirt collar was also shared.
The Wag Brigade program was first launched by the California airport in 2013, with the purpose of using animals to help soothe anxious passengers.
Initially, the plan was limited to dogs, but over time it has since expanded to include other specially trained animals including cats, rabbits, and even the “first therapy pig.” in the world”, LilLou.
Animals are selected based on their temperament and behavior, and must be certified by the San Francisco SPCA and have completed the agency’s Animal Supportive Therapy (ATT) program.
Before being asked to wear a special “Pet Me” vest at the San Francisco airport, Duke was originally rescued by the SPCA from a pack of feral cats in 2010 when he was still a kitten.
He was adopted by a five-year-old girl and her mother, who certified him as a therapy animal.
On his Instagram account, which is run by his owner, Duke’s latest date was announced with a post that read: “Happiness isn’t the word… exhilaration!”
This is not the first time animals have been brought into the airport to improve the mood of passengers.
In 2017, Cincinnati/Northern Ohio Airport introduced therapy ponies to soothe stressed travelers going through the airport gates.
Twice a month, the registry receives visits from two of the 34 healthy therapy horses provided by Seven Oaks Ranch in Ohio.
The horses undergo special training to deal with the stresses and strains of the airport.
Wendi Orlando Airport Staff Said NPR at the time: “Just to reduce anxiety levels, bring a smile to your face. Obviously that is working.”