Staten Island Chuck Doesn't See Shadow, Predicts Early Spring

Spring will come early this year, at least if Staten Island Chuck's shadow is an indicator.

New York City's season-predicting groundhog didn't see his own shadow Monday morning, predicting an early spring for the city. 

"Chuck says early spring!," Mayor de Blasio declared.

Chuck's prediction is at odds with Pennsylvania's famous weather-forecasting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Phil saw his shadow, which forecasts six more weeks of winter.

This year's groundhog day ceremonies mark a change from prior years. Typically, the mayor holds the groundhog before it delivers its forecast, but the Staten Island Zoo opted to put Chuck in a Plexiglas house after de Blasio dropped a groundhog during last year's festivities.

The animal, whose name was Charlotte, squirmed from de Blasio's arms and fell several feet to the ground. It died one week later from internal injuries.  

The story prompted a flood of Twitter jokes about a #Groundhoghazi cover-up and de Blasio's possible impeachment. De Blasio's saga wasn't the first time a mayor had an unfortunate run-in with a Staten Island groundhog: A squirming Chuck bit then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.

During Monday's ceremony, de Blasio joked about the change.

"Chuck, I want to thank you for this new approach," de Blasio said. "I think we finally understand each other."

The zoo has four groundhogs, all with the variations of the brand name "Chuck." On the morning of Feb. 2, zoo staff selects which of the groundhogs will participate in the ceremony and be dubbed Chuck for the day.

The animal's formal name is Charles G. Hogg.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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