In case you didn’t realize it, today is Groundhog Day.
On February 2, (Groundhog Day) of each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates the beloved groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food. During the ceremony, which begins well before the winter sunrise, Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob, located in a rural area about 2 mi (3.2 km) east of town. According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, the United States will have six more weeks of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early. The date of Phil’s prognostication is known as Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada.
And there’s of course the classic Bill Murray movie.
Well believe it or not, those nincompoops over at PETA want to retire Punxsutawney Phil and have him replaced.
With a robot groundhog.
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club
Dear Mr. Deeley,
I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more
than 2 million members and supporters worldwide. We would like to present you with an
exciting, innovative proposal—one that would benefit both Punxsutawney and Punxsutawney
Phil. Please review the following information and then make the compassionate decision to use
an animatronic Phil and retire the live groundhogs who are used for Groundhog Day activities to
To most people, Groundhog Day—celebrated annually on February 2—is a welcome midwinter
diversion, but Punxsutawney Phil is forced to be on display year round at the local library and is
denied the ability to prepare for and enter yearly hibernation. These normally shy animals—who
are constantly on alert when they are out of their burrows—become stressed when they are
exposed to large, screaming crowds; flashing lights from perhaps hundreds of cameras; and
The popularity of using technologically advanced electromechanical devices such as animatronic
animals instead of live animals is rising. Performances such as “Walking With Dinosaurs, the
Live Experience”—a theatrical show in which animatronic dinosaurs roar, stomp, and chase each
other around an arena—have been taking audiences by storm. Other popular exhibitions have
featured robotic penguins and dolphins who swim and communicate just like real animals do,
and we think that an animatronic groundhog would similarly mesmerize a crowd full of curious
spectators in Punxsutawney.
Tradition is no excuse for cruelty, and this opportunity would allow Punxsutawney to engage in a
futuristic, interactive, versatile, and humane annual event. We would be happy to make
recommendations for both a sanctuary that would welcome Punxsutawney Phil and the other
Punxsutawney groundhogs and a company that could make an animatronic Phil. May we please
hear that non-animal alternatives will be used for Groundhog Day celebrations in Punxsutawney
next year? I can be reached at XX or XX. I look forward to hearing from you.
Gemma Vaughan, MSW
Animals in Entertainment Specialist