For Immediate Release:
January 25, 2022
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382
Punxsutawney, Pa. – Could persimmon seeds predict the weather more accurately than Punxsutawney Phil? Based on plant biology, PETA suggests that they can. In a letter sent today to Jeff Lundy, president of The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, PETA offers a persimmon tree to plant in Gobbler’s Knob so that Phil (and his companion, Phyllis) can retire to a reputable sanctuary, a respite that is long overdue.
PETA’s letter notes that persimmon seeds are said to predict the weather correctly about a quarter of the time—one study even claimed 85% accuracy. Phil has no idea what the weather will be or at least he’s not telling in ways humans can interpret. The groundhog club could spare Phil noisy crowds, bright lights, and near-constant confinement in a library basement by doing the humane thing: switching to a ceremony in which an official can check the persimmon seeds and even throw in other prognosticators, such as the thickness of apple skins. Alternatively, the club could accept PETA’s standing offer of a free animatronic groundhog that would actually predict the weather using artificial intelligence.
“Phil’s an expert in burrowing, foraging, and living the life nature intended for him, not in meteorology,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is hoping to help the groundhog club kick off a kinder February 2 and let Phil (and his companion) go to a reputable sanctuary, where he can live without worry, without being picked up and whirled about, and engage in the natural behavior denied him in his Plexiglas enclosure.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Lundy follows.
January 25, 2022
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club
Dear Mr. Lundy:
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including many in Pennsylvania—once again to ask that you please retire Punxsutawney Phil (along with his companion, Phyllis) to a reputable sanctuary.
As you know, Phil is certainly not a real meteorologist and didn’t volunteer for this job. For far too long, he’s been dragged out of a fake tree stump and subjected to noise, flashing lights, and crowds, against all of his natural instincts. For the rest of the year, he’s forced to live in a library “habitat” that doesn’t allow him to do anything that’s natural and important to him, such as hibernating, digging, burrowing, foraging, smelling fresh air, and simply living like a sentient being, not an exhibit.
There are plenty of ways for Punxsutawney to remain a significant tourist destination for weather forecasting. You could listen to the chirps of crickets, check the height of hornets’ nests, and look at the thickness of regional apple skins and cornhusks and then issue a report. We’d also be happy to send you a persimmon tree to plant in Gobbler’s Knob so that you could hold a ceremony to check the seeds annually. (They’re said to be accurate in predicting the weather 25% of the time, not too far off from Phil’s average.) And of course, our offer still stands to donate a state-of-the-art animatronic groundhog with artificial intelligence that could actually predict the weather.
We hope you’ll agree that it’s time to replace this tired tradition and take the opportunity to demonstrate that the best way to celebrate Groundhog Day is by ending the abuse of live animals immediately. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,