WHO: A very special guest at the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lubbock.
WHAT: A viral effort from followers on the internet to keep her warm.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Possums are not the most beloved of varmints. They’re not especially cute, they don’t make good pets, and their favorite food is garbage. And yet: We all love an underdog, and the little monsters, with their hideous faces and naked tails, are definitely that. And none more so than Peach, a possum who was dropped off at the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lubbock in October. Not only was she found alone and hungry at around three or four months old (apparently she didn’t have her driver’s license on her to confirm), but she was also suffering from alopecia, leaving her without even the nasty, matted fur that most possums have to keep them warm in the winter.
The shelter posted on Facebook that “This opossum is going to need a winter wardrobe,” and suddenly hundreds of followers, new and old, jumped into action, taking up their knitting needles to ensure that the wee beastie would have plenty of handcrafted sweaters to keep her cozy as the days grew shorter and colder in northwest Texas.
This is probably a good time to be a viral sensation, as a homeless, hairless possum. People have a little more time on their hands than they might in other years, and our capacity for feeling sympathy for such a pitiable creature is probably at an all-time high. Who with the skills and yarn required to knit together a sweater for the pathetic, pint-size possum would close their heart in her hour of need?
The first sweater arrived at the facility on November 3, according to the shelter’s Facebook page. In the following days, the facility shared additional images of the possum’s winter attire. Rebekah Barton, an Amarillo resident who was one of the early knitters to send a care package to Peach, told Texas Monthly that it was a natural fit for her to offer up a few sweaters. “We all need help from time to time,” Barton said, “and for that little opossum, I had the time and experience to help her out.”
Peach has plenty of clothes now—rehab director Gail Barnes told Texas Monthly that she has “a summer and winter wardrobe.” That’ll come in handy, as her alopecia means that, while she’s growing some fur thanks to an improved diet, she’ll never have enough to be released into the wild.
Instead, the center plans to add Peach to its educational permit, allowing her to stay on as a permanent resident. She’s doing just fine now—living the internet celebrity life, enjoying her time indoors, and presumably flaunting her new wardrobe for the bobcats, owls, and other wildlife she shares the facility with.