Fools for Phil

The old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”  You might actually get what you wish for, and you might find out it’s not as good as what you already have.  What is even more unfortunate is when someone else wishes something for you, even pushes for these changes, but you’re actually quite happy with the way things are.  This is happening right now in the life of a Western Pennsylvania icon.

Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous groundhog in the United States, and probably the entire planet.  He has an entire day devoted to him, local dignitaries handle him with kid gloves and an entire town springs to life in the middle of the cold winter.  Hollywood even made a movie about his special day!  The media arrives at this small Pennsylvania town each February 2 just to perhaps catch a glimpse of Phil to report whether the critter has seen his shadow.  Legend has it that if he does, he will be frightened by it and scamper back into his hole, dooming us to 6 more weeks of winter.  If he does not see his shadow, we can look forward to an early Spring.

This fuzzy little groundhog has it good.  People love him even if he does see his shadow.  He has air conditioning in the summer and a heated pen in the winter.  He lives year round in the town library along with three other little buddies in a well-kept pen.  His food is brought to him; he does not have to risk the wrath of Farmer Brown or any other gardener armed with BB guns.

Unfortunately, someone is trying to ruin Phil’s gig.  Gemma Vaughan, an animals in entertainment specialist for PETA, wrote a letter to Phil’s handlers urging them to use a robotic rodent to replace Phil.  She believes it to be “cruel” to have these shy creatures on display, adding that they get stressed when being handled by humans or facing large crowds.  I wonder how she knows so much about what these critters really want?

Seems to me a pretty nice arrangement for Phil.  One morning of “work” nets him some comfortable digs for the rest of the year, and it doesn’t even matter if anyone likes the results of his efforts.  He and his buddies are treated like celebrities, and don’t have to risk their lives foraging for food.  I think even a shy critter could warm up to the humans that take care of them like that.  And I think Phil would tell PETA to stay out of his business if he could.

Punxsutawney Phil and human

12 Responses to “Fools for Phil”

  1. 1 lynette January 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

    i can’t believe, actually, that we still play up this “groundhog day” thing like we do! talk about sensationalized superstition! why this particular read-out, which i am guessing may be based on native American lore?

    anyway, not to say that i don’t agree with your viewpoint… but i do wonder…

    if one had a choice, and Phil doesn’t it seems, would one choose a well-appointed safe and warm cage, with no possibility of following one’s natural, animal urges to roam and mate and forage and dig? or would one choose freedom, with all its potential dangers, and follow one’s true nature?

    i don’t know. i think all of God’s creatures might deserve to be free.

    BUT, that being said, i am hoping for a forecast for the end of winter SOOOONNNN!

  2. 2 les January 30, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I don’t know, Lynette. But Phil looks pretty fat and happy to me! 😀

  3. 3 Consuella Banana Hammock January 30, 2010 at 9:35 am

    one word—extremes! goodness. i understand that we should be kind to animals. we shouldn’t kill them or beat them or abuse them because we have more power. i get that. but is this abuse? really? one groundhog in a cage? doesn’t sound like abuse. extremes. that is the problem.

    • 4 les January 30, 2010 at 10:19 am

      Exactly. And I think my dog would prefer to be stuck here in my home subject to all of our rules in exchange for the 2 square meals and prime spot in front of the fireplace rather than being out on her own knocking over garbage cans for food.

  4. 5 Cyndi January 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I think groundhog day is absurd. Almost as absurd as PETA. Those people are nuts. They undermine their own good cause by behaving like crazy people.

  5. 7 lynette January 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    well, dogs are domesticated animals.

    that being said, i think the PETA people are quite whacked. i remember reading an interview with the president of PETA a number of years ago, and when asked how she justifies being an insulin-dependent diabetic, knowing that using insulin to treat diabetes was discovered using dogs as experimental models, she said that she needed to keep alive “because the animals needed her”.

    i think wild animals should be wild.
    i also think animal research, well regulated and painfree, is okay.

    not sure about Phil…. 😀

  6. 8 robinaltman January 31, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Those PETA people better watch out. Phil might get pissed if he gets dumped back into the wild. And if that happens, Phil has really sharp teeth and big claws.

  7. 10 Dawn February 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Okay, I have this eerie feeling that Groundhog Day is one of those things that I have not celebrated enough my whole life.

    It seems you have front row tickets. Cool!

    And OMG I am a whacked PETA follower.

    • 11 les February 2, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      I have never actually gone to the BIG celebration in Punxsutawney. I wouldn’t even attend it it was right next door. I HATE the cold and would not stand outside waiting for a rodent to predict the weather. That being said, this has been a tradition for many years, silly as it is. Life is a little less boring with some pomp and circumstance, and even dumb little useless traditions that are followed from year to year.

      If any animal was being hurt, I would want it stopped immediately. I think PETA sometimes goes to extremes, but every living being should be protected from pain and suffering. I absolutely LOVE animals, unless they’re bugs or rodents that happen to sneak into my home!

  8. 12 lynette February 2, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    LOL! i guess he saw his shadow, if that means anything 🙂

    dawn and les, i hope i did not offend! i have seen PETA do some pretty extreme and vicious things, and they seem to find a way to justify it no matter what (as in the example above). i remember explosive letters showing up at my grad school building. i remember PETA folks releasing bred animals into the broad population who were ill or treated with who knows what to try to fend for themselves and possibly introduce harmful substances into the general animal population.

    i love animals too — was even a vegan for years (until i got pregnant, and could not eat enough protein to gain any weight — now i have gone to the dark side).

    i do have a hard time arguing that we should not use animals in medical research — every single one of us, including animals through veterinary medical research, benefits today from myriad discoveries that could not have made without them. the significant and stringent rules that govern their care and pain management are thanks to veterinary associations and other animal advocacy groups — not PETA.

    i probably just placed my head on a chopping block, but there it is 🙂

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January 2010

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