PETA Wants To Stop Using Punxsutawney Phil For Groundhog Day — Here’s Their Proposed Replacement

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PETA has ideas for other ways to predict the weather on Groundhog DayPETA has ideas for other ways to predict the weather on Groundhog Day

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it might be cold out on Groundhog Day. Each year, the eyes of the nation turn to a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, tasked with predicting the impending spring, but PETA wishes to relieve Phil of this duty and has proposed a surprising alternative.

The tradition of Groundhog Day dates back to the 1800s when residents of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, first traveled to Gobbler’s Knob, Phil’s “official” home. The rodent became a national symbol after appearing on Today in 1960, but his continued job as weatherman goes against the wishes of PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a non-profit animal rights group with an eventful history in animal welfare.

PETA is calling for replacing Punxsutawney Phil with a small, inanimate object for Groundhog Day

The tradition of Groundhog Day with Punxsutawney Phil dates back to the 1800sThe tradition of Groundhog Day with Punxsutawney Phil dates back to the 1800s
The tradition of Groundhog Day with Punxsutawney Phil dates back to the 1800s / Unsplash

With Groundhog Day fast approaching on February 1, PETA is calling for this year to bring some change and give Punxsutawney Phil a break and early retirement. This week, PETA sent a letter to Tom Dunkel, president of The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, with a proposal: the organization would send the club a giant gold coin to be used for weather predictions in place of Phil the groundhog.

“He is not a meteorologist, and he deserves better than to be exploited every year for tourism money,” said PETA, adding that a groundhog’s weather prediction based on the presence or absence of a shadow is no more accurate than flipping a coin. The group continued, “The huge coin could easily replace him as the Pennsylvania town’s gimmick to draw in tourists.”

PETA further notes that by nature groundhogs are shy, prefer to stay away from humans, and like to live solitary lives.

The logistics of Groundhog Day

GROUNDHOG DAY, Rod Sell, Brian Doyle-MurrayGROUNDHOG DAY, Rod Sell, Brian Doyle-Murray
GROUNDHOG DAY, Rod Sell, Brian Doyle-Murray, 1993, (c) Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection

They don’t want to live in confinement in a local library, where they can’t do anything that’s natural and important to them,” PETA further argued. “They also don’t want to be used to prognosticate the weather or be exposed to flashing cameras, human handling, or noisy crowds.”

This isn’t the first time PETA has called for Punxsutawney Phil to give up meteorology; they made a similar bid in 2022, that time suggesting using a persimmon tree to predict the coming spring instead.

PETA wants Pennsylvania to stop using Punxsutawney Phil for Groundhog Day and switch to a large coinPETA wants Pennsylvania to stop using Punxsutawney Phil for Groundhog Day and switch to a large coin
PETA wants Pennsylvania to stop using Punxsutawney Phil for Groundhog Day and switch to a large coin / Flickr

According to The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, when not delivering his weather predictions, Phil lives in his burrow which is described as “a manmade zoo that is climate controlled and light regulated. It is connected with Barclay Square, the town park, and the Punxsutawney Memorial Library.”

So far, the tiny hamlet in Western Pennsylvania is scheduled to hold its annual Groundhog Day celebration with Phil as usual.

Should the tradition change?

The organization argues that groundhogs are solitary creatures and Phil is being kept from everything natural to his wild groundhog lifeThe organization argues that groundhogs are solitary creatures and Phil is being kept from everything natural to his wild groundhog life
The organization argues that groundhogs are solitary creatures and Phil is being kept from everything natural to his wild groundhog life / PxHere

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