If you only saw this picture of a suffering opossum, you might assume there’s no way the animal pulled through:
When the Riverside County Department of Animal Services in California was first called and sent an officer out to help, dispatchers were unsure what the officer would find.
“The officer found the animal in a western section of Riverside and was surprised to discover [he] was still alive, despite two cross-bow arrows that had struck [him],” read a caption on the department’s Facebook page.
The opossum, named Robin by his rescuers, was then rushed into emergency surgery, where he continued to fight for his life.
“The animal was very alert and you could tell [he] was trying to remove the arrows [himself],” Sgt. Cynthia Lee of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, who observed Robin when he first came in, said in the same Facebook statement. “The opossum was grabbing the arrow on [his] side. What a horrible thing to do to an animal.”
Miraculously, Robin pulled through the surgery to remove both arrows, although his left eye also had to be removed because of the extent of his injuries.
Since his surgery, Robin has been transferred to Sunshine Haven Animal Rescue & Wildlife Rehabilitation, a wildlife sanctuary where he will be treated for at least six weeks and then hopefully released back into his natural habitat.
Despite common misconceptions about opossums, they are smart, clean, non-aggressive animals who tend to avoid conflict and pose little or no threat to companion animals like cats and dogs. It is virtually unheard of for opossums—North America’s only marsupials—to carry rabies, perhaps because of their low body temperature, and they share an interesting trait with humans: They have opposable thumbs—but on their hind feet.
Most importantly, opossums, like all animals, never deserve to be treated cruelly as Robin was—or cruelly at all.
What You Can Do
Always report cruelty to animals, as people who harm animals are a threat to the entire community. If an animal is in danger, contact your local animal control or police immediately, and if they’re unresponsive, then contact PETA. To help sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife, check out our tips for assessing a wildlife emergency, and to help wildlife every day, see our tips for living in harmony with wildlife.