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Zoo prepares cross-eyed cat for celebrity

Frank, the eyra or jaguarundi, which is a type of wild cat, is pictured in a zoo in the town of Delitzsch, north of Leipzig. (REUTERS)

By Reuters

Hot on the heels of cross-eyed opossum Heidi's smash success at the Leipzig Zoo, a nearby animal park in eastern Germany has been preparing its own cross-eyed creature for possible celebrity.

Meet Frank the jaguarundi, a 14-year-old wild cat from the Tiergarten Delitzsch in eastern Germany, who has his own pair of crossed eyes.

"I think many people probably just come (to the zoo) to see him," zoo head Katrin Ernst told Reuters. "They stand at his enclosure and call his name. ... I can hear here it from my office nearby."

Jaguarundis are a type of puma native to North and South America.

Frank's handlers believe he was born cross-eyed, unlike opossum Heidi whose crossed eyes stem from a poor diet when she was young.

The 2-1/2-year-old opossum became a star in Germany when her photo appeared in the mass-circulation newspaper Bild in December, generating a Facebook following topping 300,000 fans.

She has also been recruited by Hollywood to predict winners of the February 27 Academy Awards on U.S. television.

Celebrity may not be far off for Frank: Bild included a photo and article about him last week.

So far the Delitzsch zoo has yet to receive any offers from Hollywood or endorsement opportunities, said Ernst.

"We're waiting for what comes," she said. "If someone should inquire and perhaps would like to make little chocolate jaguarundis or something similar, then we certainly wouldn't be disinterested."

Frank may not be a natural showman like prior German animal celebrities like polar bear Knut or the late octopus oracle Paul, who correctly tipped each of Germany's 2010 World Cup matches in front of dozens of media on live television.

Jaguarundis' moods are not easy to predict. They are solitary animals who only meet fellow jaguarundis when mating.

Still, Frank is something of an institution; he is the oldest male jaguarundi in Europe.