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Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: Phil deserves respect

| Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

Phil deserves respect

Columnist Tom Purcell misses the mark in “Lighten up, critics, it's Groundhog Day.” All animals deserve to be treated with respect, not used as marketing props. It's time to retire Punxsutawney's annual groundhog spectacle.

Groundhogs are shy animals that avoid human contact. Being hauled out in front of a boisterous crowd is stressful for them. Their burrows can be up to 66 feet long, with multiple exits and chambers, a far cry from Phil's glass “home” in the public library. Because he is on display all year, Phil can't hibernate, as groundhogs naturally do. His cage had to be renovated because he was constantly trying to escape. Phil belongs in the woods and fields, feeling the sun on his back and digging for tasty treats.

Traditions that are no longer in sync with enlightened attitudes must evolve. If Punxsutawney wants to attract visitors year-round instead of one day a year, it must devise a fresh marketing campaign that doesn't exploit harmless herbivores.

Jennifer O'Connor

Norfolk, Va.

The writer is a senior writer with the PETA Foundation.

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