Stephen - One lucky goldfish
Last updated 14:34 08/04/2011
A lucky goldfish, stranded for three weeks after the Christchurch earthquake, was rescued from a central city antiques store shortly before the building was torn down.
Portabello Antiques on Tuam Street was red-stickered and set to be deconstructed after the February 22 earthquake.
Owner Deric Blackler, who also lived upstairs with his wife and son, was told three weeks after the quake that he had a brief opportunity to retrieve valuables from the building.
He met USAR personnel, police and an excavator outside the Tuam Street store to decide what would be saved and what would have to be left behind.
"The USAR team leader expressed his condolences about my shop and asked how my house got on. I explained that we lived above the shop. He looked up at the missing walls and said 'oh bad question'."
Blackler asked if his goldfish, named Stephen, could be rescued from the top of the stairs.
The lionhead goldfish had been given to Blackler as a birthday present a year ago.
The USAR team leader came back a short while later, saying he had found Stephen's bowl half full of water and broken brick, but without any fish inside.
"I was expecting a dead fish, three weeks without food is a long time," Blackler said.
Over lunch the USAR team pondered the fate of the fish.
"A hungry seagull flying in through the missing walls was the most popular reason for the disappearance of the fish," Blackler said.
After lunch another USAR member went back in to the building and came out with the bowl.
"He was in there all along, hiding under a plant. I could not believe it."
Stephen had a wound on one side, but was swimming and hungrily snapped up pie crumbs and an apple core left over from lunch.
Within a week the wound had healed and Stephen now lives happily in a new house in Papanui, where Portabello Antiques has reopened, Blackler said.