By Alison Fox
December 17, 2019

A California man's trip home from Texas wasn't as seamless as he planned with his unique pet in tow — and no, it wasn’t a peacock. 

Passenger Gerald Tautenhahn posted on his pet opossum’s Instagram page recently that he was able to sneak the animal, named Zatara, onto a flight from Texas to California, but was kicked off his return flight with JetBlue when the airline refused to allow her onboard.

Tautenhahn originally flew to Texas to visit his mom for Thanksgiving, the station reported — with the marsupial in hand. When he turned around to go home, however, he said his “awesome possum” was turned away.

"We did all of our homework about a month in advance. I called the Department of Transportation, cleared it with them. Cleared it with JetBlue, they said it was fine," Tautenhahn told FOX 7 Austin, adding that he was already in his seat onboard when "one of the crew members came up and said hey can I speak with you outside? They said hey, either you can leave her here or you can stay with her but she can't fly. The feeling was insane, it was frustrating beyond belief because they let me come here with her but now I can't return with her."

NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

A representative for JetBlue told the station that the airline “gladly accepts small dogs and cats only in an approved pet carrier.” The representative added that the opossum came out of its carrier and crew members noticed it was decidedly not a cat or dog.

“The crewmembers informed the customer that the opossum would not be able to travel on the flight and worked to assist the customer with his options,” the representative said.

Tautenhahn chose loyalty to his pet and booked a second flight home on United a few days later. When he boarded that flight, Tautenhahn told the New York Post the flight attendants “didn’t even ask” about the somewhat strange pet.

Tautenhahn and Zatara, whose Instagram account refers to her as a “fancified trash cat” and has over 400 followers are now both home in California, according to the Post.

Their difficult return journey was documented with the hashtag #BringZataraHome. 

An opossum is not the first odd animal to board a flight. Earlier this year, a woman was spotted bringing her miniature horse on an American Airlines flight from Omaha to Chicago.

And last year, a woman was escorted off a Frontier Airlines flight from Orlando when she tried to bring her (banned) squirrel onto the plane.

Advertisement