Every February 2, a ceremony where the world-famous groundhog Phil is taken from his burrow is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil is displayed to a baying crowd and if he sees his show, legend has it that there’ll be six more weeks of winter. If not, it suggests that an early spring is due.
With Groundhog Day just around the corner, PETA has sent an open letter to Punxsutawney to stop terrorizing the innocent rodent, and let it roam the earth freely. They suggest that Phil should be replaced with an animatronic groundhog that uses AI to predict the weather.
According to PETA, a robotic Phil would make the ceremony humane and modern. Also, the robot would probably be better at predicting the weather.
In the letter to The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk writes, “As a prey species, groundhogs actively avoid humans. Being in close proximity to the public causes these animals great stress. When Phil is dragged out of his hole and held up to flashing lights and crowds, he has no idea what's happening. Being relegated to a library "habitat" for the other days of the year doesn't allow him or the other groundhog there to dig, burrow, or forage. It's no kind of life for these animals.”
PETA’s solution is quite straightforward, and they even give the example of Sony’s robot dog “aibo”. “Using technologically advanced electromechanical devices such as animatronics instead of live animals is more popular than ever. We even have the technology to create an animatronic groundhog with artificial intelligence (AI) that could actually predict the weather.” writes Newkirk.
Newkirk also states that they can recommend a sanctuary that would welcome the good-old Phil in its retirement.
All in all, Punxsutawney Phil is claimed to be 137 years old by the club, and apparently, he is kept alive by drinking a magic “groundhog punch.” If the numbers are true, we hope that the time for a long retirement has come for the sweet rodent.
However, it looks like PETA’s request might not become a reality for some time. Punxsutawney Groundhog Club President Bill Deeley says, “We hope that the Groundhog’s Day ceremony is timeless and that it keeps going on after I go to the big groundhog pie in the sky.”