MANTEO, N.C. - The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is mourning the loss of one of its educational animal ambassadors.
Patrick, a Virginia opossum, was euthanized due to mitral valve disease that eventually progressed to heart failure. He had been an animal ambassador with the aquarium since he was injured in a highway incident that deemed him non-releasable three years ago.
Opossums have a 1-to-2-year lifespan in the wild. Over the course of his time with the aquarium, Patrick was able to extend the typical opossum lifespan and delighted many visitors — virtual and in-person — during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Decisions such as these are not only very difficult, but they are emotionally taxing on the team here at Roanoke Island.” said Elizabeth Huber, husbandry curator at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. “Patrick’s quality of life takes priority in this situation, since he has been declining in recent months both due to his mitral valve issues and reaching the latter part of his life expectancy.”
“Patrick’s contributions were so very important during the time of the aquarium’s pandemic closure, and he was able to share the importance of opossum education to so many virtual visitors." said Dr. Emily Christiansen, North Carolina Aquarium Division veterinarian. "He was tremendously loved by both staff and the public and had an excellent life that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible if he wasn't part of our family!”