TribLIVE

| Home


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

PETA wants animatronic groundhog: 'Who are they kidding''

Daily Photo Galleries

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010
 

Punxsutawney Phil might be the most pampered groundhog in the world, but that's not good enough for the folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

They sent a letter to Phil's handlers, urging them to use a robotic rodent rather than the real Phil on Tuesday.

"Make the compassionate decision to use an animatronic Phil and retire the live groundhogs who are used for Groundhog Day activities to a sanctuary," wrote Gemma Vaughan, an animals in entertainment specialist for PETA. "Tradition is no excuse for cruelty."

The letter calls it "cruel" to keep groundhogs on display year-round, adding that groundhogs are shy creatures that become stressed when handled by humans or facing large crowds.

A proposal to replace the iconic Phil is blasphemous, said Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

"I mean, come on, this is just crazy," Deeley said Wednesday.

"Phil is probably treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania," Deeley said. "He's got air-conditioning in the summer, his pen is heated in winter. ... He has everything but a TV in there. What more do you want?"

Phil, who is said to be 124 years old, lives year-round in a pen in the town library with three other groundhogs. "I think one of them is named Stinky or something," Deeley said.

Every Feb. 2, Phil is the honored guest at an early-morning party at Gobbler's Knob, a wooded area outside of town where thousands of tourists watch Phil issue his annual weather forecast. As per legend, if Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if he does not, there will be an early spring.

Deeley would not predict whether Phil will see his shadow this year. "But I think I've had enough of winter," he said.

He has similar feelings for PETA.

"Who are they kidding• We probably should have just taken the e-mail and deleted it."

 

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Clues to Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking on new ObamaCare case
  2. For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
  3. Pirates enter Plan B with Martin off market
  4. Starkey: No explaining Steelers, AFC North
  5. Allegheny County buck could prove to be state’s largest ever taken
  6. Islanders outwork Penguins to sweep back-to-back meetings
  7. For Pitt men’s basketball team, trouble in paradise
  8. Mears savors success, credits legendary Lange for guidance, inspiration
  9. Leak of grand jury information could cost Attorney General Kane
  10. House fire doused in Turtle Creek
  11. Shooting victims live with bullets to survive, thrive
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.