Robot in the Hole

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Controversy in west central Pennsylvania as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) suggest the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, one of the most famous weather forecasters in the world, be replaced on Groundhog Day by an animatronic version of the beloved marmot.

Stating that the furry celebrity becomes "…stressed when [he] is exposed to large, screaming crowds; flashing lights from perhaps hundreds of cameras; and human handling," PETA then suggested the robot. In response, Bill Deeley, President of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club says Phil "is being treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania."

Punxsutawney Phil and one of his top-hatted handlers. Photo: AP.

PETA’s statement comes with maximum effect as Groundhog Day is next Tuesday.

The celebration of Groundhog Day goes back about 120 years. According to tradition, each February 2 Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob and if he sees his shadow and returns to his hole, the United States will have six more weeks of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early. The town of Punxsutawney celebrates with a festival in Phil’s honor. For the rest of the year, Phil lives a comfortable life with his "wife" Phyllis in the town library. True story.

Weather forecasters around the world, including at ImpactWeather, celebrate Groundhog Day with cupcakes and sparklers.

This story would’ve been posted earlier if not for my inability to properly spell "Punxsutawney."

 A less-famous woodchuck, aka: groundhog. Photo: Wiki

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