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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Let Sleeping Groundhogs Lie

Happy Groundhog Day!  Or, perhaps more accurately, Happy Badger Day!  The tradition of Groundhog Day was brought to the United States by immigrants from Germany, where folklore held that a badger (sometimes a bear) would emerge from the ground at this time to help people predict whether or not winter would be ending soon.  When the Germans came to America, they found no badgers, and settled on the groundhog.

To think, if they'd only waited until they'd made their way a little further west before giving up, the holiday might be Badger Day still.

For a groundhog (or badger) to emerge from its hole, it first has to be in one... and that's what most groundhogs are doing this time of year.  Hibernating - taking the long sleep to get through the food-scarce winter.  Managing hibernating animals in a zoo is really easy.  You don't.  You provide a shelter suitable to the species, and they let you know when they expect to be fed again by reappearing in the spring.

Seriously, I haven't seen one of our prairie dogs for weeks.

The rational behind Groundhog Day is simple - if it's warm enough for hibernating mammals to start emerging from their burrows, spring can't be too far off.  It's not infallible, but it kinda works,

And by that, I mean that they're right about as often as the TV meteorologists...

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