German Cross-Eyed Opossum Becomes Internet Hit

A cross-eyed opossum in Germany called Heidi who is not yet even on public display has become an Internet hit, winning more than 65,000 "friends" on social networking website Facebook.

Heidi is thought to be two and a half years old, and was abandoned outside an animal shelter in North Carolina in the United States, together with her sister Naira, and has been in Leipzig zoo in eastern Germany since May.

The sisters, plus a third male opossum called Teddy, arrived from a zoo in Denmark, and will make their public debut on July 1, the German zoo says on a special Internet page set up for Heidi's apparent legions of fans.

The zoo believes the marsupial's eye problem may be to do with her diet before she was abandoned, or because she is overweight, leading to fat deposits behind her eyes. Otherwise she is completely normal and not in pain.

The zoo is hoping to replicate the success of a polar bear called Knut in Berlin who as a cub became a global media star and money-spinner in 2007, even featuring on the front page of Vanity Fair magazine.

"You can all visit me from July 1 ... but not all 65,000 at once," reads a "message" from Heidi on her Facebook page.

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