Chucking Cruel Traditions: The Village of Babylon Marks Groundhog Day in an Animal-Friendly Way

Published by Elena Waldman.
2 min read

This Groundhog Day, the Village of Babylon, New York, predicted a season of compassion for our fellow animals! Instead of using a live groundhog, the village marked this year’s seasonal tradition with a new weather-forecasting woodchuck: Babylon Belle, a charismatic, tutu-donning groundhog mascot.

Predicting an early spring, the Babylon Belle of the ball burrowed her way into our hearts by proving that Groundhog Day is best celebrated without subjecting groundhogs to stressful, unnatural public interactions.

PETA is recognizing the Village of Babylon’s display of kindness with our Compassionate Government Award and some delicious vegan chocolates. As the town’s mayor said, this animal-friendly custom sets a wonderful example: “Babylon Belle is not just your average groundhog. She’s protecting our wildlife, too, and we’re keeping safe and happy all our outdoor friends, including groundhogs from being upset and stressed and having the early morning blues.” 

compassionate government award featuring a groundhog that peta is giving to the village of babylon for using a mascot for groundhog day

Exploitation Casts a Shadow Over Groundhog Day

Unlike Babylon Belle, groundhogs can’t volunteer for public appearances and absurd weather-predicting stunts—these shy, sensitive animals would never choose to be exposed to flashing cameras, human handling, or noisy crowds. In nature, groundhogs are solitary animals who typically only socialize with other groundhogs to choose a partner. They are skilled swimmers and climbers and create complex, multichambered burrows that even have separate “bathrooms.” Causing these animals to suffer is no way to mark Groundhog Day—in fact, it casts a speciesist shadow over the holiday.

A Real Woodchuck Would Chuck Cruelty if They Could

Groundhogs are living, feeling animals who don’t want to be used in cruel, dated, and nonsensical traditions. It’s high time that other communities followed the Village of Babylon’s example by protecting—not exploiting—our fellow animals on Groundhog Day.

You can help groundhogs by not supporting Groundhog Day celebrations that use live animals. Speak up for Punxsutawney Phil by telling The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to send him to a reputable sanctuary:

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 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

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