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Hairless Opossum In Texas Gets Wardrobe Of Tiny Sweaters

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As you might guess, the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lubbock, Texas, sees all kinds of animals.

GAIL BARNES: Not only birds but mammals, reptiles. We take in a little bit of everything.

SHAPIRO: So when a man called last week and said he was leaving a baby possum he found in a used car lot, executive director Gail Barnes wasn't surprised until she opened the box he left behind.

BARNES: And this arm came out of the box. And I thought, oh, my gosh, he has brought us a hairless cat.

SHAPIRO: Not a hairless cat but a hairless possum - Barnes thinks it has a form of alopecia, a condition that leaves a person almost completely hairless.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Now, a life without fur is usually a death sentence for a possum. They can't live in the elements without it. And things were touch-and-go for this baby at first. But after a week in an incubator and a careful diet, it has already doubled its body weight.

SHAPIRO: And after a photo of the baby possum was posted on Facebook, the animal rehab center became an animal fashion center.

BARNES: I've had so many phone calls, and people on our Facebook page are making it wardrobes. They're knitting sweaters. People with hairless cats are donating their cats' clothing when they were, you know, kittens. So it's going to have a complete wardrobe.

SHAPIRO: It may have a new wardrobe, but for now, the fashionable possum does not yet have a name. That will likely come when it's made official that the marsupial cannot be returned to the wild.

KELLY: Well, if and when that happens, the possum will live at the rehab center, where Gail Barnes already has plans for her.

BARNES: And because she doesn't have any fur, you know, they're the only marsupial in North America, so you can really see her pouch. So if we get to use her for education, this will be a really good ambassador for education.

KELLY: All right. That's your cue. If you have just the right coat for a hairless marsupial emissary, Gail Barnes will take it off your hands.

(SOUNDBITE OF FM-84 SONG, "EVERYTHING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.