Groundhog day is a popular tradition among many Americans and Canadians who believe an emergence of the critter from its burrow indicates the arrival of a particular type of weather. Though the modern variation of the tradition hasn’t changed much, a groundhog has reportedly perished as a result.
About a week after New York’s mayor dropped Staten Island Chuck in front of a crowd of spectators on February 2, the winter weather prognosticator died of internal injuries. However, the matter took some very ugly turns when the zoo officials were found to be involved in a shameful cover-up about the alleged connection between the two incidents, reported USA Today.
The plot thickened when the public came to know that “Chuck,” who is the official male groundhog, was switched with “Charlotte” a female of the species. The impostor, as the Staten Island citizens are calling her, was found dead in her enclosure at the Staten Island Zoo on February 9. A necropsy determined she died from “acute internal injuries,” reported New York Post.
In other words, Charlotte might have died because Mayor Bill de Blasio accidentally dropped her from a height of more than six feet. Charlotte fell when the mayor lost his grip during the Groundhog Day photo op. Sources said her injuries were consistent with a fall.
Instead of revealing the sad loss, the zoo — which gets nearly half of its $3.5 million in annual funding from the city — told the staff to keep the mayor’s office in the dark about the animal’s fate. The zoo officials chose to alter the story, and said the groundhog died of natural causes, said Assemblyman Matthew Titone,
“I was told he died of old age, that he went to that big farm in the sky. I later learned how the animal had died.”
The zoo also never revealed the biggest secret of all — that the part of Chuck was being played by Charlotte. Chuck was benched because the zoo feared he could bite de Blasio, as he did Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.
The zoo has never publicly divulged that it has stand-in groundhogs to protect the “groundhog brand.” But what is even bizarre is that the zoo officials plan to pull the same groundhog switcheroo next year by using the groundhog couple’s young daughter — also named Charlotte — in the role of Chuck. Apparently, the zoo officials are more concerned about ensuring the visiting dignitaries are well-protected. As for the actual performer, the lesser said, the better.
[Image Credit | Staten Island Advance]