Saying Good-bye to Phebe the Opossum

On the afternoon of September 22, the Wildlife Center staff made the decision to humanely euthanize Phebe the opossum due to chronic health issues associated with her advanced age.

Phebe was the eldest member of the Center’s opossum ambassador team. She celebrated her fourth birthday during the summer of 2017 – a remarkable milestone. The typical lifespan of an opossum is one-and-a-half years in the wild, and just around three years in captivity. Phebe came to the Center as a very young opossum in 2013 after her mother was hit and killed by a car; an injury to Phebe’s eye prevented her from being released back to the wild, and she joined the team as an education animal.

The staff and volunteers at the Center were especially fond of Phebe; to help her become comfortable with people, and to acclimate her to her future job as ambassador, Phebe lived inside with staff members for several weeks after she was deemed non-releasable. Everyone fell in love with the sweet, small opossum who spent her days napping inside in a basket before moving to her “grown-up” enclosure outdoors.

During these past four years, Phebe has helped us teach nearly 20,000 people. She helped others to appreciate opossums more and fear them less. She was a gentle opossum who loved snacking on peanuts, bananas, and hard-boiled eggs.

Earlier this year, the veterinary staff diagnosed Phebe with arthritis and possible osteosarcoma; we kept a close eye on her to make sure she was still mobile, comfortable, and alert. Making end-of-life decisions for animals can be very challenging, but in recent weeks, it became clear that Phebe quality of life was deteriorating, and the kindest thing we could do was humanely euthanize her.

Phebe went on her last programs this week; she and outreach coordinator Raina visited two schools in Rockingham County to teach children about the dangers of litter and the importance of being good stewards of our shared habitat.

Phebe’s last days were filled with smiling people, special treats, and soft blankets. She helped make life better for her wild relatives by being a fantastic ambassador for her species. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.