Sunday, February 2nd is a big day. Not only is there a big game being played that evening, it is also Groundhog's Day. The day that Punxatawney Phil comes out of his humble abode and lets the world know if Spring is coming early, or if we can expect six more weeks of Winter.

Groundhog's Day is a big deal in Punxatawney, PA. They have had festivities every year, celebrating the groundhog, and his forecasting abilities, dating back into the 1800's. There was even a movie called "Groundhog Day," starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, where a meteorologist keeps living the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.

Columbia

Now, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is calling for Punxatawney Phil's retirement. They sent a letter to the Punxatawney Groundhog Club asking that they retire Phil, and the back-up groundhog, to a reputable rescue and start using an animatronic groundhog that could actually predict the weather. Part of the letter states:

Times change. Traditions evolve. It’s long overdue for Phil to be retired.

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.

The AI (artificial intelligence) groundhogs could be used to accurately predict the weather. Computers have come a long way, and yes, this could be a more accurate way to get the forecast. However, there is something to be said about the traditions surrounding Groundhog's Day. I don't know if thousands of people will show up for an animatronic Phil, kinda takes the fun out of the predictions.

Will Punxatawney Phil see his shadow or not? That question will be answered Sunday. Will he be retired? No answer to that question at this time.

Sources: Fox 9, PETA.org