PETA wants Punxsutawney Phill to retire
PETA has taken aim at Punxsutawney.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group has announced that they’ve sent a letter to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, asking them to retire the resident groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, as well as the tradition of using the live groundhog as a weather predictor.
The letter, signed by PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, states that “it’s long overdue for Phil to be retired.”
“As a prey species, groundhogs actively avoid humans,” she wrote. "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."
Newkirk went on to state that Phil’s stress does not end after Groundhog Day: his habitat at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library during the rest of the year, she said, “doesn’t allow him or the other groundhog there to dig, burrow, or forage. It’s no kind of life for these animals.”
One of the platforms of PETA’s activism includes putting an end to using animals as entertainment for humans.
However, the activists aren’t asking for the end of the holiday. Instead of using a large live rodent to attempt to predict the end of winter, Newkirk writes, why not use a high-tech replacement?
“We even have the technology to create an animatronic groundhog with artificial intelligence (AI) that could actually predict the weather,” she suggested in the letter.
Using an animatronic groundhog rather than a real one is a “win-win situation,” according to PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman. In her words, the change would "breathe life into a tired tradition and finally do right by a long-suffering animal.”
A robotic groundhog would be more likely to make an accurate prediction, if Phil’s track record is any indication: over the past 117 years of his predictions (we’re told Phil has been gifted with magical longevity, a claim that has yet to be independently verified) he’s been correct about 65 percent of the time.
The letter ends with an optimistic note, both diplomatically and meteorologically speaking:
“Instead of working at cross-purposes, let’s collaborate to create a sunny future,” Newkirk writes.