NEW YORK - Curiosity killed a cat - almost.
The latest twist on this age-old proverb happened recently at Berth 80 Maher Terminal on the waterfront in Newark, N.J.
It was there early Jan. 29 that a black cat was discovered - nearly frozen to death - in a huge refrigerated wine cargo container that had been shipped across the Atlantic from a vineyard in Italy's Tuscany region.
Surprised Marchesi Antinori Wines workers, who found the frost-covered feline when they opened the 1,200-case shipment, feared the worst. The 2-year-old, green-eyed male didn't move, didn't react to a flashlight and couldn't even be coaxed by a bowl of milk.
"Everyone thought he was dead," said Francine Bryan Brown, a spokeswoman for the wine importer.
An animal rescue unit was called, and the cat - which was lucky despite the color of its coat - was ultimately revived. He's been recovering at Newark's Associated Humane Societies.
The workers who found him dubbed him Peppoli, for the brand of Chianti that was in the container. They said the cat may have been poking around in the container just before he was locked inside and the cargo ship set sail on the three-week Italy-to-New Jersey voyage.
Peppoli survived, they believe, on the condensation that can gather along the edge of the 40-foot-long container, which is kept at 55 degrees while at sea.
Wine company workers were trying to discover whether Peppoli - who was not wearing a collar - has an owner who misses him in Italy. If not, they said, they'll keep him.
Cathy, 40, a wine warehouse dispatcher who didn't want her last name used, said, "This poor guy came over an ocean, sat in there for three weeks without food and water. I refuse to believe he came to America" to be left in a shelter.