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Cross-eyed opossum draws Facebook following long before her debut at German zoo

A cross-eyed opossum named Heidi has become an Internet hit.
A cross-eyed opossum named Heidi has become an Internet hit. (AP, AFP)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011; 5:48 PM

She's middle-aged and gray-haired and stays up all night. Still, Heidi the cross-eyed opossum is Germany's biggest star, and she has not even made her debut at the Leipzig Zoo.

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The 21/2-year-old opossum has a Facebook following of more than 111,000 fans, has sparked a popular song on YouTube and will soon star as a stuffed animal toy. However, the public will not get its first glimpse of Heidi until July, when a new exhibit opens.

The zoo had no idea that the cross-eyed opossum would become famous when Heidi arrived from a Danish zoo in May along with her sister, Naira, and a male opossum.

Demand for information about Heidi has been so high that part of the zoo's Web site answers Heidi questions, including why she is cross-eyed.

Zoo officials believe that Heidi's crossed eyes might be the result of a poor diet when she was young. Poor vision is not much of a problem for Heidi, the zoo said. As nocturnal animals, opossums rely heavily on their sense of smell instead of their sight to get around.

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