Mon, Jun 20, 2011 - Page 15 News List

Cross-eyed opossum makes German debut
鬥雞眼負鼠 德國公開亮相

Opossum Heidi peers out of her transportation cage next to her keeper Michael Ernst during her relocation to her new home at Gondwanaland tropical experience world at the zoo in Leipzig, Germany on June 9.

Photo: EPA

Germany’s latest animal sensation, Heidi the cross-eyed opossum, made her media debut on June 9, three weeks before her new tropical enclosure at Leipzig Zoo is revealed to the public.

Watched by a scrum of photographers and television cameras, Heidi briefly stuck her snout out of her box before being released by her keepers into the 60-million-euro (NT$2.5 trillion), 1.6-hectare “Gondwanaland.”

The marsupial has become an Internet hit, winning some 326,000 admirers on social networking Web site Facebook, more than three times as many as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The zoo hopes Heidi can ride the coattails of a Berlin polar bear called Knut, who as a cub became a worldwide media star and money-spinner in 2007, even featuring on the front page of Vanity Fair magazine.

He died in March aged just four.

Last year Paul the Octopus achieved nothing short of global fame from his tank in northern Germany for correctly “predicting” the outcome of the nation’s matches in the football World Cup. He too has since died.

Heidi’s eye problem is thought to be due to a poor diet before she was abandoned in the US, or because she is overweight, leading to fat deposits behind her eyes.

Since arriving at the eastern German zoo around a year ago together with sister Naira and a male called Teddy, Heidi has lost almost a kilo in weight but she remains cross-eyed.

Leipzig Zoo says that it is not planning any “active marketing” of Heidi, and that it would devote any income that it might earn from third parties to projects such as one supporting rhinos in Borneo.

Gondwanaland, which will also be home to around 17,000 exotic plants and some 300 animals, including ocelots, crocodiles and Germany’s only Komodo dragon, opens to the public on July 1.













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