Heidi, a cross-eyed opossum, who has become the biggest American-born star to hit Germany since David Hasselhoff, now has sweet new digs to for her fame.
Heidi, who, along with her sister, Naira, was raised as a foundling in a South Carolina wild animal station before moving to the Leipzig Zoo in May, 2010, just moved into a special exhibit at the zoo called the Gondwanaland Tropical Experience World, the Local.de reported.
The exhibition, which took three years to make, is intended to give an insight into threatened ecosystems in Asia, Africa and South America, but the real drawing card is a cross-eyed animal that no one expected to be a star.
She first attracted attention after a local TV report about her new home featured her as one of several animals in quarantine, according to the Associated Press.
During the report, Heidi squinted up at the cameraman as zookeeper Michael Eisner said offhandedly, "She definitively won't be Germany's next Super Opossum."
He's probably eating those words with pleasure these days.
The clip attracted so much attention on the internet that the station developed 10 episodes featuring Heidi and a local stuffed animal manufacturer, Koesen, adapted its line of plush opossums to include a white one with black ears and, of course, crossed-eyes.
She also has more than 300,000 Facebook fans and, apparently, a boyfriend named "Teddy," who, like her, spent a short time at a zoo in Denmark before coming to Germany.
Although a Leipzig Zoo spokesman insisted to the Local that the "media resonance was surprising and not planned," it has nevertheless moved to protect the rights to her name and cross-eyed image - believed to be the result of pressure on her eyes created by fatty deposits.
The zoo says the squint doesn't hurt Heidi and, certainly, her popularity won't hurt the zoo's bottom line.
ANIMALS IN THE NEWS:
The exhibit featuring Heidi, along with 17,000 trees and plants and 299 animals, opened officially July 1 and already the crowds have been lining up in long lines hoping to get a peek at their cross-eyed object of affection.
Ralph Aulich, 42, a fireman from Hoyerswerda, Germany, showed up at the zoo at 4:45 a.m. on the first day of the exhiibt.
“I just wanted to be the first,” he said to the Local.
Leipzig Mayor Burkhard Jung was smitten.
“She’s just enchanting,” Jung told the Local, adding that he's surprised that the attention given to the city's biggest celeb. “That has completely surprised us – above all, how long the hype has lasted.”
Time will tell if Heidi will continue to wow them, but already there are signs that she is unsure how to handle fame.
Rather than greeting her first visitors with the "You made me who I am" spirit of a seasoned actress, Heidi, possibly intimidated by the crowds, wedged herself into the hollow of her tree and gazed out coolly with her famous squint.