Stolen statue of beloved Istanbul cat returned

The bronze Tombili statue Image copyright OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Tombili's cuddly physique and nonchalant pose were recreated in bronze, but someone decided to make off with the statue

A statue honouring one of Istanbul's most famous felines which went missing earlier this week has been returned after a social media outcry.

The bronze sculpture is of Tombili, a tubby cat who became the subject of countless internet memes when a photo of him reclining on the pavement went viral. The statue immortalising his famous pose vanished on Monday night, only a month after being unveiled.

The local council confirmed on Twitter that it had been stolen, posting a sobbing cat emoji, and Tombili's fans expressed their outrage online. "They stole the Tombili statue. They are enemies of everything beautiful. All they know is hate, tears and war. They can't live without those," Republican People's Party MP Tuncay Ozkan tweeted. Another social media user said: "What kind of a country do we live in? What are they going to do with the statue, put it on the mantelpiece?" Even foreign diplomats were upset: the Russian embassy in Ankara tweeted its concern about the statue's fate.

Perhaps the guilt was too much for whoever took it, as on Thursday the statue reappeared. Sculptor Seval Sahin shared a photo of herself with it, thanking everyone on social media and the press and TV coverage which she says helped bring about the happy ending.

Tombili died in August but was so beloved in the local community and beyond that a Change.org petition calling for a memorial in Istanbul's Kadikoy district gathered more than 17,000 supporters.

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