ATLANTA (March 3, 2016) - Yesterday morning, Georgia Aquarium veterinary and animal care team members came to the rescue of a stranded opossum on the fourth level of our parking deck. The animal was in a dangerous situation, just inches from slipping off a beam, exposed to the cold elements with no safe place to retreat. Opossums are not typically active during the day and human-animal contact like this unfortunately becomes increasingly common as wildlife habitat is lost. Thankfully, our passionate, animal-loving teams were able to come to the joyous rescue of this cold opossum. With the skillful aid of our project and engineering team to bring Tonya Clauss, director of animal health, to the fourth level by way of a lift, she was able to tactically and safely reach the animal and retrieve it using protective gloves and a net. Other team members on the ground had nets ready as a precaution. Once back to the ground, Clauss carefully placed the opossum in an animal carrier, complete with a blanket to help keep it warm. Our nutritionist, Lisa Hoopes, provided appropriate food and water until the opossum could be transferred to Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort (AWARE) for further evaluation. 

Georgia Aquarium veterinary and animal care teams are experienced with working with wildlife, but are not responsible for directly responding to such cases. These teams consist of passionate individuals who show no bias when it comes to caring for animals.

“It was an animal in distress. We care for all animals, it’s what we do,” said Clauss.  

Reports from the dedicated staff at AWARE indicate that the opossum was carefully examined and appears to be in good condition.  If one ever comes across wildlife who may need assistance, please contact a wildlife rescue service, such as AWARE, before taking the situation into your own hands.  

Photos of Georgia Aquarium team members performing the rescue can be found here



Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that contains more than 10 million gallons of water and has the largest collection of aquatic animals in North America. Georgia Aquarium’s mission is to be a scientific institution that entertains and educates, features exhibits and programs of the highest standards, and offers engaging and exciting guest experiences that promote the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit