The animal rights group PETA says Punxsutawney Phil is being badly treated by the crowds and noise at the annual Groundhog Day festival on Feb. 2 and should be replaced with a robotic groundhog .
Gemma Vaughan, Animals in Entertainment specialist for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a letter to organizers of the annual spectacle in Punxsutawney, PA, that groundhogs, which are normally shy and spend much of their time in burrows, “become stressed when they are exposed to large, screaming crowds; flashing lights from perhaps hundreds of cameras; and human handling.”
Vaughan suggests using “animatronic animals” instead.
Bill Deeley, president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, said in response that Phil is “being treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania.”
He notes that Phil is kept in a climate-controlled environment and is inspected annually by the state Department of Agriculture, the Associated Press reports.
Deeley suggests PETA is looking for publicity.
Read the full letter here.
Via USA Today