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Meet Basil, the National Zoo’s one-eyed opossum that ‘enjoys being cozy’

The Virginia opossum is the zoo's newest nocturnal resident.

A one-eyed opossum named Basil has officially become an ambassador for his species at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

On Sept. 2, the National Zoo, also known as the National Zoological Park, announced in a release shared on its website that it had welcomed a new member earlier in the summer.

Basil is a Virginia opossum, also known as a North American opossum, and he was discovered after he lost an eye in a predator attack. He was then brought to City Wildlife, an organization that rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife in Washington, D.C., to recover and heal. With limited eyesight, the furry little guy was deemed non-releasable because he was unlikely to survive in the wild.

As a result, City Wildlife helped to transfer him to the National Zoo’s Small Mammal House. The small mammal house exhibit has enclosures that mimic native landscapes for animals such as tamarins ferrets, and opossums, like Basil.

The National Zoo did not immediately respond to’s request for comment.

The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and has been around for more than a century.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo’s Instagram account shared the news with followers, revealing that Basil has already displayed a propensity for cushy comforts and fishy cuisine.

“Meet our new Virginia opossum, Basil!” the post, which features a photo of Basil, reads in the caption. “He loves fish, fleece blankets and long walks in his exhibit at night. After a predator attack, Basil was rehabilitated by our friends at @dccitywildlife. When their team determined it was unsafe for him to be returned to the wild, Basil came to the Zoo to be an ambassador for his species.”

Is possum and opossum the same?

Possums and opossums are marsupials with similar characteristics but are entirely different animals, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Opossums live in North America and South America, while possums are native to Australia.

What are the predators of the opossum?

According to the National Zoo, opossums have various predators, primarily birds of prey, snakes and “pets like dogs are also a threat to opossums when not kept on a leash.”

How is Basil adjusting to the Zoo?  

“Basil is adjusting very well to his new home,” the National Zoo stated in its feature about Basil. “He willingly interacts with keepers and seems to be exploring his exhibit overnight.”

The Zoo explained that because Basil is a nocturnal species, he primarily sleeps throughout the day. However, when the staff does get to interact with Basil, they learned that "he is curious, mellow and very much enjoys being cozy."

“Basil especially loves his fleece blankets and finding a spot in his logs to get curled up — if you don’t see him right away, that’s the first place to look," the National Zoo wrote.