We have news of a passing: Heidi, the cross-eyed opossum that became an Internet sensation, was put to sleep in Germany today.
If you accept that Facebook fans are popularity's new currency, then Heidi was a big deal. With her 338,000 fans, the opossum, who made her American debut by predicting the Oscars (correctly on two categories) on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, was more popular than German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Der Spiegel has the details on the news:
Leipzig Zoo announced that Heidi was put to sleep Wednesday after keepers had failed to successfully treat her arthritis and other maladies relating to old age, despite weeks of efforts. Heidi was three-and-a-half years old.
The zoo's director, Jörg Junhold, said the decision had been made "in the interests of the animal." Keepers wanted to spare her further pain and suffering, he said.
In recent weeks, Heidi had hardly moved, as a result of her arthritis. "We carried out all possible examinations and treatments," Junhold said. The only explanation, he added, was old age, something that the veterinarians could do nothing against.
ABC News reports that thousands of condolence messages poured into the zoo. A condolence book was also placed in front of her exhibit at the zoo. Her crossed-eyes, by the way, were thought to be caused by a poor diet in her early days or because she was a bit chubby.