Since photos of Heidi, a cross-eyed opossum from Germany's Leipzig Zoo, were published in December she's catapulted to international stardom. More than 116,000 people are fans of the visually-impaired opossum on Facebook, plus she's inspired a song and merchandising.
ITN ran ostensibly-adorable footage of Heidi and spoke to her veteranarian about her condition:
And here's the song about Heidi. It's performed by children and features images of her eyes spinning around, because that isn't creepy at all.
The Associated Press consulted with experts to explain the phenomenon:
"It triggers a reaction in our unconsciousness, when we see these creatures that make us think of children," said Peter Walschburger, a biological psychologist at Berlin's Free University.
"Animals are so innocent — in a way that we no longer are," said media expert Steffen Damm. "They remind us of our lost connection to nature."
Yes, critters do remind us of our lost innocence, especially when they're killing their dinner with their bare hands!
Though surely thousands of Germans can't be wrong, this opossumania strikes me as a bit bizarre. While I'm sympathetic to Heidi's plight, I have no desire to purchase the inevitable opossum plush toys. Perhaps watching hundreds of cats do adorable things on YouTube has left me desensitized to cute critter videos. Or maybe it's because in college I was psychologically traumatized by a ferocious and most definitely bloodthirsty opossum I encountered on a dark path while walking back from the library. Call me cold-hearted, but I still say Knut, and even Paul the World Cup predicting octopus, were more deserving of an international media frenzy.