A museum heist? NC Transportation Museum needs Mookie, its feline mascot, back

Mookie, the feline mascot of the N.C. Transportation Museum near Salisbury, has gone missing and staff members think a museum visitor may have taken her as a snuggly souvenir.

They need her back.

“It’s happened before,” museum spokesman Tyler Kent said Tuesday, referring to the time in August 2021 when a museum guest assumed Mookie was a stray in need of a home, and decided to give her one.

On the contrary, Mookie is a beloved member of the crew who even had a spot in the front row of the staff photo taken in March for the museum’s Facebook page.

Mookie rests in Santa’s chair during a holiday break at the N.C. Transportation Museum. The museum mascot was last seen on Sept. 2 and staff think a visitor may have left with her.

In social media posts, there are photos of Mookie on a firetruck, Mookie in front of Southern Railway Steam Locomotive #542, Mookie sleeping in Santa’s chair at Christmas, Mookie getting loved on by guests.

Mookie’s disappearance was noted in a post on Tuesday.

“WE NEED YOUR HELP!” the museum said, in all caps. “Mookie, our beloved feline friend who greets all of our visitors, is missing. She was last seen on Saturday, September 2. Mookie is microchipped, well cared for, and loves to roam the museum property. She is not known to leave the site on her own. Please, if you’ve seen Mookie or know anything about her whereabouts, please call the museum at 704-636-2889 or email us at info@nctransportationmuseum.org.”

Mookie, who is about 7, has lived at the museum for more than five years, ever since she wandered up as a malnourished stray and was immediately taken in. She now has the run of the 60-acre property and makes the most of it, going in and out of buildings, inspecting the rolling stock and mingling with visitors.

“We try to keep a collar on her so people will know she’s not a stray,” Kent said. But like a freight-hopper slipping away from railroad guards, “Somehow she always manages to get out of it.”

She’s easily recognizable: very friendly, especially to children. Photogenic, with bovine, black-and-white markings, like a moo-cow. Hence her name.

Kent said she weighs “seven to nine pounds, depending on who she’s been following around.” He says she’s not fond of other animals.

The museum, which attracts 150,000 visitors a year to the circa 1896 former Southern railway repair center at Spencer Shops, celebrates the evolution of planes, trains and automobiles.

If you “rescued” Mookie, museum staff would like you to give her a ride back home; she’s late for work.

Mookie, the feline mascot of the N.C. Transportation Museum, was last seen Sept. 2. If you “rescued” her during a visit, the staff would like to have her back.
Mookie, the missing mascot of the N.C. Transportation Museum, rests in front of Southern Railway Steam Locomotive #542. Mookie was last seen at the museum on Sept. 2.