Could Punxsutawney Phil Be Replaced By A Robot?

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's almost time for Groundhog Day, when the famed Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil will let the world know whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter. But if animal rights group PETA gets their way, from now on the beloved American tradition of Groundhog Day would star an animatronic animal instead of a live one.

In a letter sent to the President of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, PETA's President is urging the town to consider replacing the living groundhog with "artificial intelligence (A.I.) that could actually predict the weather."

Over the past decade, the living groundhog has only given an accurate weather prediction about 40 percent of the time.

(Getty Images)

According to PETA, groundhogs are a prey species, so they actively avoid humans. "Being in close proximity to the public causes these animals great stress," the letter says. "When Phil is dragged out of his hole and held up to flashing lights and crowds, he had no idea what's happening."

The letter also speaks out against the way Phil lives during the rest of the year. "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."

Not only would Phil be allowed to retire, PETA says an A.I. Phil who could really predict the weather would "renew interest in Punxsutawney, generating a great deal of buzz... Talk about taking your town's annual tradition in a fresh and innovative direction!"

PETA also argues that young people today don't care about "a nocturnal rodent being pulled from a fake hole," warning that if the town fails to keep up with the nation's fast-changing demographics, it "might well prove the end of Groundhog Day." The animal rights group is also offering to make recommendations for a sanctuary that would take good care of the groundhogs.

Phil is next scheduled to be taken from his hole on Gobbler's Knob before sunrise on Sunday, February 2.

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