He's hung out with Lindsay Lohan, recorded a rap song with Snoop Dogg and flown next to Paul Henry - but it seems Rico's days as a high-flying celebrity are over.

Rico, Air New Zealand's controversial puppet used in several viral videos over the past 12 months, has been killed off by Air New Zealand's advertising team.

"Air New Zealand's furry mascot has passed away while hosting a celeb-packed house-warming party in his Los Angeles mansion," a press release issued today said.

Fans were directed to the website byebyerico.com to help find out who had killed him.


The suspects included Snoop Dogg, Holly Madison, Ma'a Nonu, Guliana Rancic, Richard Simmons and Paul Henry.

More than 4.5 million people have watched Rico's YouTube videos over the past year, helping Air New Zealand win the 2011 Airline Business marketing strategy award.

His rap video with Snoop Dogg has almost 600,000 views on YouTube.

But Rico attracted just as many haters as fans.

"What a creepy little thing," said one commentator online when the ads first started airing. "If that thing was human and sitting next to me on a flight I'd ask for a different seat."

"Very unclassy and a complete mis-match with Air NZ's premier branding," said another.

Check out Rico's video with Snoop Dogg below: