It's Groundhog's day again and for the 99th time Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow - six more weeks of winter. Phil and his shadow have been around since 1887 - a 123-year-old American tradition - but if PETA has it's way, this year will be the end of Phil's career. According to its official blog, it's time for Phil to retire and replace him with "an electronic groundhog."
"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," the blog said. "Add to that the displeasure of large, screaming crowds, flashing lights of cameras, and human handling."
PETA's statement, however, hasn't been met with much enthusiasm. Most of the comments on their blog page were either critical or humorous.
One PETA commenter wrote, "He has shelter, food, and better medical attention than most humans in the US ... He's making a great living and got to meet Bill Murray, which is awesome. He would suffer more hardship back in the wild than continuing what he has been doing his whole life. Also when you say screaming crowds, who is screaming? He's not Bono."
Another commenter quipped, "If anyone wants to ‘Save the Groundhog' come to my house in the Spring. There are plenty of them and none of them live as well as Phil."
If PETA's new mission is to save Punxsutawney Phil, then it had better not forget about Staten Island Chuck, Georgia's General Beauregard Lee, Wiarton Willie, Dunkirk Dave, Buckeye Chuck, Shubenacadie Sam, French Creek Freddie, Balzac Billy .. the list goes on and on.
Or perhaps PETA's simply on a mission to steal poor Phil's 15 minutes of fame. William Deeley, president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, says PETA's interest in Phil is a publicity stunt that will end the day after Groundhog's.
"PETA only talks to us once a year," Deeley told his local newspaper, Punxsutawney Spirit. "They only want to jump on the band wagon and get some publicity."