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It's Raining Drunk "Possums" Down Under

Students who climb trees to play a "possum" drinking game create havoc in New Zealand's parks.

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Sober possums Photo via

By Sarah Beller

05/04/12

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It appears that New Zealand has a bit of a possum problem. Not only do possums outnumber people seven to one in the island country, but residents of Dunedin, a city on South Island, are falling out of trees as part of a drinking game modeled after the furry critters. Players of the game "possum"—believed to be mainly students from Otago University—follow two simple rules: 1) Sit in a tree, and 2) Drink alcohol until you fall out of it. Whether falling constitutes winning, or losing, is unspecified. The game has been around for at least four years, but Dunedin Gardens staff have noted that a recent rise in "possum" activity is causing some precipitation problems. In addition to the obvious dangers of falling people, Dunedin City council member Alan Matchett cautions, “What they drink has to come out again, so they do throw up and urinate from the trees.” And beyond the dangers to participants and unsuspecting passersby, the game raises a host of other concerns including food scraps, litter and potential damage to the trees, some of which “are classed as heritage trees and are more than 100 years old.” A spokesman from Otago University says that wannabe “possums” should take heed; previous culprits have been "required to clean up their litter and to meet with the proctor for disciplinary action."

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