The sweet story of Jojo, the dog who adopted a litter of adorable opossum joeys, is warming hearts countrywide.
The joeys are lucky to be alive after their home was ravaged by a forest fire that struck the municipality of Monte Alto, in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo – one of 4,214 fire outbreaks so far this year in the world’s most populous cities.
Tragically, in an attempt to escape the inferno, numerous wild animals caught in the crosshairs of the fires darted towards the city. Of the animals, four opossum mothers that were nursing litters were attacked and killed by resident dogs, leaving seven orphaned babies behind.
In a heart-warming act of motherly love, Jojo took the babies under her wing (or paw, so to speak) and temporarily helped foster them.
Jojo’s owner, Biology student Talita Peixoto, shared footage of her pooch lovingly caring for the miniature marsupials and allowing them to cling onto her back, as they would naturally do so with their real mommy.
Talita's friend, environmentalist Samuel Maria, rescued the septuplets. Samuel has provided aid to over 40 animals affected by fires and drought in Sao Paulo over the last two months. Samuel gave the opossum joeys to Talita to take care of before their eventual release back into the wild.
“One day, the little opossums seemed sad, probably because they were missing their mother, and my dog laid down in front of me as I was feeding them,” said Talita.
“Just then one of the opossums went up to Jojo and clung onto her. At that moment, I thought I would put the others on top of her for comfort. When I placed them onto her, it was incredible because they immediately clung to her, and she completely accepted them. It was so beautiful to see.”
Talita explained that she would place the opossums on Jojo’s back over the following days, and the little joeys even approached Jojo of their own accord.
Despite Jojo's maternal bond with the baby opossums, it was decided it was best not to encourage the very cute relationship as dogs and opossums aren’t the best of friends in the wild. Dogs often mistake opossums wandering around urban areas for giant rats and attack them.
The opossums - that grow to the size of a house cat - have since been successfully released back into the wild after reaching the appropriate size and weight, and learning to find water, shelter, and food independently.
Feature image credited to: Newsflash