The 2021 Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA is virtual this year, but that's not stopping the Groundhog Club from using Punxsutawney Phil to predict the weather for the next six weeks.
PETA this year is again calling for this tradition to stop. The animal rights group has placed two billboards in the Punxsutawney area urging everyone to "chuck" the old tradition.
"Only a bona fide human meteorologist should be asked to predict the length of winter—and if it makes the event more exciting to have them dragged out of a hole, PETA will gladly start digging," a PETA blog post said.
According to PETA, groundhogs are vulnerable prey animals who naturally avoid humans and enjoy digging, foraging, and hibernating in burrows that can span many acres, but the Punxsutawney groundhogs are displayed year-round in the basement of the local library. On February 2, they’re exposed to the lights of flashing cameras, human handling, confusion, and stress. At past Groundhog Day events across the country, terrified animals have been dropped or have bitten humans.
The group suggests that the tradition be changed to use a meteorologist or animatronic groundhog instead.