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The Milwaukee County Zoo salvaged Groundhog Day with penguins

A lone Humboldt penguin, standing tall and proud, at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
Milwaukee County Zoo
A lone Humboldt penguin, standing tall and proud, at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Radio Milwaukee is, among other things, a media outlet. And as a media outlet, we feel obligated to cover certain events despite our personal feelings toward them.

I bring this up for no particular reason on this day, which happens to be Groundhog Day, a tradition (not a holiday) that involves various organizations yanking a rodent out of its hidey-hole so it can supposedly tell us whether we're in for an early spring or a long winter.

According to Wikipedia, the first mention of the custom in the United States dates to 1840. In the years since, many people have had their say about the merits of Groundhog Day. Bill Murray, for example, offered this summation in the 1993 movie of the same name:

Just today on an episode of This Bites, our own Tarik Moody took a few moments at the beginning of the episode to share some off-the-cuff remarks about the tradition:

This Bites: Tarik Moody on Groundhog Day

But we press on.

Speaking of pressing on, the Milwaukee County Zoo did exactly that when faced with the prospect of a Groundhog Day without the titular mammal to make its "prediction." Sadly, just a few weeks after last year's "prediction," the zoo had to euthanize its resident groundhog Gordy after he developed fluid around his lungs, most likely from a cancerous tumor that had ruptured.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), the zoo has experience with this sort of thing. Back in 2018, Snow Lilly the polar bill filled in and "predicted" six more weeks of winter. It should be noted that the daily high temperature scarcely dipped below freezing for the next two months, nor did we get any snowfall of note. So ... wishful thinking on Snow Lilly's part perhaps.

Anyway, back to 2024 and the zoo's groundhog dilemma. Sadly (again), Snow Lilly died in 2021 as the oldest polar bear in North America under the care of humans and was thus unavailable. So, with a literal zoo full of animals from which to choose, the decision-makers really nailed it by picking — objectively — the greatest animal on planet Earth to fill in:

Obviously, you'll watch the video because penguins are great. But, to get to the crux of what this day is all about, I can tell you the penguins did not see their shadows because it was very cloudy all day today. And also penguins can't talk or predict the weather, so I'm just going to stick with Tarik's forecast because he's a pretty smart guy.

Happy Groundhog Day.