In response to reports that a groundhog named Jimmy bit Mayor Jon Freund’s ear at the 67th annual Sun Prairie Groundhog Day celebration, PETA sent the town a letter today requesting that future events be groundhog-free.
Groundhogs are naturally shy, sensitive prey animals who react poorly when handled in front of raucous crowds, as evidenced by yesterday’s incident—a not uncommon occurrence during Groundhog Day events, which also pose a safety risk to the animals.
“While this groundhog’s weather prognostication was unclear, his actions read loud and clear—he had no desire to be handled in front of the noisy crowd and flashing lights,” says PETA Senior Director Colleen O’Brien. “PETA is calling on Sun Prairie to make future celebrations groundhog-free—for the safety of the animals and elected officials alike.”
In the letter to Ti Gauger, business improvement district manager for Sun Prairie, PETA described how biting indicates immense stress and fear in groundhogs:
“The event was clearly no fun for the animal, and in fact, he likely bit the mayor in a desperate attempt to flee. Not only does this type of situation pose risks to the animals and their handlers, with potentially tragic results, such handling could also trigger other stress-induced disorders in animals who aren’t outwardly harmed. We trust that you would never knowingly exhibit animals in a manner that would result in distress.”
Read PETA’s official position on animals used for entertainment.