Photographer/Barrel Racer Says State Took His Opossum

Boudoir portrait photographer and social media star is worried about his 'baby'
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2021 5:49 PM CDT
Photographer/Barrel Racer Says State Took His Opossum
Matt Mathews offers tips on using natural light to improve portraits.   (YouTube)

A barrel racer, boudoir photographer, social media star, and unofficial wildlife rehabber is pleading for the life of his "baby," a 4-year-old opossum with a bone disease. To be clear, that’s all one person. The person is Matt Mathews. The opossum is Donovan. Saying it's a lot to unpack doesn’t ever cover it. Ivana Hrinkiw of brings the world the story of Matthews and his struggle to bring home his beloved buddy.

Mathews is best known as a photographer and Instagram star with more than 56,000 followers. He has a popular YouTube channel, too, where he shares tips for taking better photos. He describes himself as "a photographer, an entrepreneur, an educator, coffee addict, and animal lover, and all-around hot mess,” and adds that he’s a three-time world qualifying barrel racer in his Insta bio, though he notes in a post that he’s taking a break from the sport. Matthews was at work at his boudoir photography studio Friday when his husband called to tell him there were four wardens from Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.

"Why did you need four wardens? Why did you need three vehicles to surround my house, when I have one possum who is not doing anything wrong?" Mathews said. In a Facebook post, Matthews said he couldn’t legally rehab Donovan, or any other opossum, because Alabama considers the animals to be rabies vectors. Opossums don’t carry rabies, however.

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Matthews said he took Donovan in four years ago after someone saw the animal struggling to walk on the side of the road. Donovan has a metabolic bone disease and would die without care, which is why he never released him. Mathews told that Donovan only drinks water with a drop of honey, loves low-fat strawberry yogurt, can only eat at a certain angle, and can’t see well or relieve himself without help. Mathews said Donovan is his "baby," but he isn’t asking for him to be returned—just to be reassured that he’s okay. He fears he’s already been euthanized. He said he wants Donovan to go the Opossum's Pouch Sanctuary to finish out his days—Donavan is at the end of his approximately four-year lifespan. And he hopes his social media presence can pressure Alabama to make it easier to be licensed as a wildlife rehabber. (More weird news stories.)

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