A young female brushtail possum that was found dehydrated and separated from its mother just outside of Sydney, Australia is now on the mend thanks to 'round-the-clock care at Taronga Zoo's wildlife hospital and the comforting embrace of a stuffed animal!
The 4-month-old orphaned joey has been named Bettina by Felicity Evans, the veterinary nurse who has been serving as her surrogate mother. Evans must keep a careful watch over Bettina at all hours, which means getting up in the middle of the night to tend to the little marsupial's needs.
"She’s feeding really well and is quite a vocal little thing," Evans said. "She’ll sit in the spare room next to me and call out when she’s ready to feed."
When she's not being handled by Evans or other zoo staff, Bettina is usually hanging out in a simulated pouch (as seen above) or clinging to a stuffed kangaroo toy meant to simulate her absent mother:
"At this age she would naturally still be with her mother, so the soft toy gives her something to snuggle for comfort," Evans explains. "It’s not as fluffy and woolly as an adult brushtail possum, but she clings to it using her claws and teeth as she would do with mum in the wild."
Bettina will continue to recover at the zoo's wildlife hospital until she's transferred to a more specialized wildlife caretaking facility. From there, she will eventually be released back into the wild.
Continue below for more unbearably cute photos of this little nugget.