Germany's cross-eyed opossum to tip Oscars

A cross-eyed opossum called Heidi, Germany's latest animal sensation after "Cute Knut" the polar bear cub and Paul the Octopus, has been hired as a tipster for the Oscars, her zoo said Friday.

Heidi will appear on America's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" show on ABC and will "select" her favoured movie from each category in the February 27 awards, Leipzig Zoo in eastern Germany said.

"She will not however leave Leipzig. The filming will be done .. at Leipzig Zoo," it said in a statement.

"We took a long time to come to a decision. What was important for us was the animal's welfare," zoo director Joerg Junhold said.

All the revenues generated - no financial details about the deal were revealed - will go towards animal projects, and ABC has said it will make a donation to the zoo, the statement added.

It was not immediately clear how Heidi will pick the film she likes best.

Heidi is thought to be two and a half years old, and was abandoned outside an animal shelter in North Carolina in the United States, together with her sister Naira, and has been at Leipzig Zoo since May.

The sisters, plus a third male opossum called Teddy, are being quarantined while they acclimatise, and will make their public debut on July 1, the German zoo says on a special Internet page set up for Heidi's many fans.

The zoo believes Heidi's eye problem may be to do with her diet before she was abandoned, or because she is overweight, leading to fat deposits behind her eyes. Otherwise she is completely normal and not in pain - and dieting.

The marsupial is "liked" by around 300,000 people on social networking website Facebook.

Her popularity is reminiscent of the success of a polar bear called Knut in Berlin, who as a cub became an global media star and money-spinner in 2007, even featuring on the front page of glossy magazine Vanity Fair.

It also recalls Paul the Octopus, who from his tank in northern Germany, achieved nothing short of global fame for correctly "predicting" the outcome of matches in last year's football World Cup.

Knut is now a less-than-cuddly strapping and lethal adult bear, with animal welfare campaigners saying the public attention has caused him lasting harm. Paul, meanwhile, died from natural causes last October.

The tentacled tipster is set to be honoured with a 1.8-metre (six-foot) statue on top of a football, however, in the middle of which will be a see-through window with the golden urn containing Paul's ashes.

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