In this weird and wonderful world, there are dogs that can count, elephants that can paint, and groundhogs that can predict the weather. That’s right, groundhogs plural — Punxsutawney Phil isn’t the only notable rodent meteorologist out there. Though Phil hogs (get it?) most of the limelight on Groundhog Day, plenty of cities across the country have their own famous groundhogs — so it’s only fair they have their time to shine. Some are highly educated (having earned honorary college degrees) while some turned to a life of crime (biting the mayor). The jury is still out on whether predicting the seasons is a genetic groundhog trait or just a popular hobby among the species — but we do know for certain that these rodents are remarkable. Read on to learn more about our favorite famous groundhogs.
1. Charles G. Hogg, or “Staten Island Chuck” of Staten Island, NY
Where Punxsutawney Phil is the proverbial teacher’s pet, Staten Island Chuck is the kid in the back of the classroom making spitballs. Every bit as adorable as Phil, Chuck has a rap sheet — and he’s used his disarming good looks to create chaos. In 2009, Chuck bit then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the hand before making his prediction, according to Staten Island Live. Five years later, Mayor Bill de Blasio (wearing thick gloves, after learning from Bloomberg’s mistakes) tried his best to contain Chuck, but obviously, Chuck cannot be contained, and he fell out of the mayor’s arms. Chuck died a few days later, though his handlers said his death wasn’t related to the fall. Either way, he went out in a blaze of glory, and future groundhogs bearing his name now remain in a clear plastic enclosure for the ceremony — both for their safety, and for the safety of any mayors who dare test them.
2. Jimmy of Sun Prairie, WI
While Staten Island Chuck’s life of crime was cut tragically short in 2014, Jimmy the groundhog of Wisconsin carried on the torch and paid homage to Chuck’s legacy by biting his own mayor on the ear in 2015. Sun Prairie is known to its locals as “The Groundhog Capital of the World,” because “the groundhog sees his shadow when the sun comes up on the prairie,” according to the town’s official website.
3. General Beauregard Lee of Jackson, GA
Perhaps the most decorated groundhog on this list, General Beauregard Lee hails from the Dauset Trails Nature Center where he enjoys hash browns, digging tunnels, and using his official Twitter account. The General is also a talented meteorologist: his pattern of correct predictions has garnered him an honorary doctorate in Weather Prognostication from the University of Georgia and another in Southern Groundology from Georgia State University, as well as notoriety from the National Weather Service.
4. Essex Ed of West Orange, NJ
Ed lives at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, where he’s been predicting the weather since the late ’90s. He’s one of the harder-working ‘hogs, as he also predicts the winner of the upcoming Super Bowl on Groundhog Day. “He’s much better at predicting the weather than football,” claims zoo employee Caitlin Sharp. “But in his defense, he hibernates through most of the sports season.” Maybe his weather skills are so sharp because he mentored under Punxsutawney Phil himself — though his predictions are very much his own, Sharp emphasized.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Don’t get me wrong — I love Punxsutawney Phil as much as any proud American should. But given their diversity of skills and talents, it would be a shame to ignore our country’s other impressive groundhogs. After all, it’s called “Groundhog Day,” not “Punxsutawney Phil” day.
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