Red River Zoo Animals Weigh in on Spring’s Arrival in the Valley

It’s Groundhog Day – and the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil declares that spring is just around the corner, but we want to know when spring will arrive in the Valley.

We were in search of a local expert who could tell me when spring would arrive in the Valley, but there were no groundhogs available for an interview.

So, we turned to the Red River Zoo.

There, we spoke with the zoo’s curator, who said that groundhogs may not be the best at forecasting the weather.

“It is a true hibernator – I think Phil might have had some help coming out to do his prediction this morning.  They are one of the few things that actually – few animals that actually hibernate truly like bears do,” said Liz Hile, Red River Zoo’s general curator.

We talked with many of the zoo’s biggest celebrities including Mattie, the red panda, but none of them would speak with us on camera.

The area’s best experts – the prairie dogs – were still asleep for the winter, so we had no choice but to go back to the original expert.

When I asked him about seeing his shadow, Spartacus, the zoo’s hedgehog, would only nod his head, indicating that he thought we would have six more weeks of winter.

Finally, I wanted to know if Liz ever asked a groundhog to forecast the weather.  “I have never asked Phil that question.  I don’t know I don’t speak groundhog – I speak three languages, but not groundhog.”

The tradition of Groundhog Day goes back to Germany, where they used hedgehogs to help predict the coming of spring.

When Germans came to America, there were no hedgehogs, so they used the groundhog instead.

With that, a new tradition was born.

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