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The Orphaned Opossum Refuses To Return To The Wild

Greenwood, Arin Published at 9:45 a.m. on March 29, 2017
The three orphaned baby opossums A vehicle tragedy claimed the lives of two of their mothers. The third occurred as a result of a dog attack.

Sheri Kassalias, an opossum rehabilitator (and dog rescuer), consented to foster the three, caring for them until they were large and self-sufficient enough to be released back into the wild.

Two of the babies were perfectly happy with the idea. They were eager to be rehabilitated – and even happier to be freed.

The third, on the other hand, had other ideas.

“Opie was so adorable that he insisted on being held. He made his way up my sleeve, “The Dodo learns from Kassalias.

Opie even started licking and grooming Kassalias, which is known as “slubbing.” Because of his kindness and how fast he’d connected, another rescuer informed Kassalias she had a “one in a million” opossum.

In order to make Opie releasable, the rescuer stated she would have to either entirely break off all ties with him or commit to keeping him permanently.

“Now we’re almost two years later,” Kassalias says.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

Kassalias and her husband, as well as a 14-year-old pit bull, an elderly Boston terrier, a 25-year-old tortoise called Bubba, and a foster dog, share a house in South Carolina with Opie.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

Opie, like the others, gets goodies and walks, as well as visits from Santa.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

Aside from being a beloved friend, Opie has another job.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

He’s registered with the USDA so he can go out in public, and he goes to schools and other locations with Kassalias to help teach people about the wonders of his kind: Opossums, the only marsupials in North America, are ancient species that are immune to rabies and consume a lot of ticks.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

Kassalias enjoys telling people about how opossums will devour the pests in your yard while leaving nothing behind. They are not going to dig up your yard or climb into your attic.

They’ll stay on the ground, she adds, and “appreciate an abandoned hole beneath a tree log, a location in the rear of the garage, or an open area to your basement.” “They give back to nature instead of stealing from it, which I admire. Even when hurt, they are kind.”

Opie often appears as a special guest at dog adoption events to help bring people, and he is featured in a charity calendar.

“He’s an incredible ambassador,” Kassalias says.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

Opie’s second birthday celebration was a huge success.

His celebration was a fundraiser for The Opossum’s Pouch Rescue, and brought in hundreds of pounds of donated food, as well as blankets and other supplies for the rescued animals.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

But it’s also heartbreaking to celebrate Opie’s second birthday.

The lifetime of an opossum is unlikely to exceed two years. Opie seemed to be slowing down a little. He’s had some difficulty with his balance and has lost some weight.

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

Opie sat in Kassalias’ lap the other night as she sobbed at the prospect of losing this mystical marsupial, whom she refers to as her “positive possum.” Opie has provided her so much delight while also doing so much good in the world.

“I know I’ve done all in my power,” Kassalias adds, regardless of how much time he has left with him. “He would live to be 100 if his longevity was based on love.”

CREDIT: SHERI KASSALIAS

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