Playing Possum On Brooklyn Ave: Locals Help Stranded Marsupial

EAST FLATBUSH – When employees of Lenox Hill Radiology on Brooklyn Avenue saw a strange sight on a barbed wire fence Thursday afternoon, they and neighbors sprang into action to try and help what turned out to be a slow moving opossum carrying small babies in her pouch.

Opossum sits on a dumpster next to Lenox Hill Radiology on Brooklyn Avenue. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The discovery of the opossum on the fence next to the radiology center at 1014 Brooklyn Ave., near Snyder, attracted numerous residents to see the unusual sight of a nocturnal creature that doesn’t normally show itself in daylight.

Francisco Salerom, a superintendent for a Snyder Avenue residential building, said he saw the hapless opossum up on the barbed wire fence next to a vacant lot.

“I came over and saw the little babies on her—she was stuck on the barbed wire,” Salerom said as police emergency service officers arrived to remove the opossum to a safer place away from residents. “I helped her with a large stick by moving the barbed wire so she could walk through it on top of the fence. She couldn’t seem to get off, but when I moved the wire, she could get down onto the dumpster.”

ESU officer examines opossum at a distance, not wanting to panic the nervous marsupial. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Police from the 67th Precinct arrived and kept pedestrians at a distance so they wouldn’t scare the creature and to keep them safe.

The employees treated the young mother with babies in her pouch to a platter of rice and beans and a dish of water before police arrived. “She looked like she was hungry and she ate some food and water, but she stayed there since then.”

Emergency service officers arrived at about 5 p.m. and were able to remove the opossum into a box provided by the clinic. Police were able to release the opossum into the trees at nearby Holy Cross Cemetery.

As ESU officers try to move the opossum, she shows she is not too happy. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

An opossum in a yard should not be a problem. They are not aggressive or destructive creatures and do not attack pets or dig burrows, according to Wildlifehelp.org. They are helpful because they eat many types of insects, including crickets and beetles, as well as mice. Opossums may forage in trash or pet food left outside and will sometimes raid poultry yards or gardens to feed on fruits and vegetables. They tend to be solitary,  nomadic, and primarily nocturnal. They bare their teeth, hiss, or “play dead” when threatened.

The opossum is lowered into a cardboard box to be removed to a safe place. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Opossums are common in New York, mostly in the outer boroughs, where there are more places for them to nest, hide and find food.

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Todd Maisel

Todd Maisel

Todd Maisel is an award-winning photographer with more than 35-years, specializing in breaking news. He currently serves as vice president of the New York Press Photographers. He was honored by the National Press Photographers Association and the Uniform Firefighters Association for saving the life of a firefighter he found in debris after the collapse of the World Trade Center, assisting in the rescue of an injured photographer, and for extensive coverage of the attack. Maisel is a graduate of NYU School of Journalism.

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