To Predict the Weather, You Need a Robot, Not a Terrified Groundhog

Published by Michelle Kretzer.

How accurate is a terrified captive groundhog at predicting winter weather? It probably won’t surprise you to hear “not very.”

Groundhog in Grass Munching on Flower

In all the years that a long succession of naturally shy groundhogs have been dubbed “Punxsutawney Phil” and been held up in front of a noisy crowd and bright flashing lights, their “predictions” have been correct about a third of the time. According to Weather Underground meteorologist Tim Roche

“[Y]ou’ll be better off flipping a coin than going by the groundhog’s predictions.”

Add it to the long list of things that Phil can’t do, which also includes digging, burrowing, foraging, and hibernating—which are all impossible in the Plexiglas box at the local library where he’s confined until February 2.

But PETA has an idea that will feed two birds with one scone. We contacted The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club with a unique proposition: Use an animatronic groundhog equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) that could actually predict the weather.

As we told the group …

“An AI Phil would renew interest in Punxsutawney, generating a great deal of buzz, much like Sony’s robot dog ‘aibo,’ which walks, plays, misbehaves, and responds to commands. By creating an AI Phil, you could keep Punxsutawney at the center of Groundhog Day but in a much more progressive way. Talk about taking your town’s annual tradition in a fresh and innovative direction!”

Let Phil and his fellow captive groundhog Phyllis retire, we urged, and we’ll be happy to help place them in an accredited sanctuary that can better meet their needs and allow them the freedom to express their natural behavior.

Animals ask for so little from us. We can at least let them live in peace.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind