Nibbles Sides with Phil on Long Winter
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - According to Nibbles the groundhog, there’s six more weeks of winter.
Nibbles made her Groundhog Day debut at the Western North Carolina Nature Center, where she appeared with actress Andie MacDowell, a star of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day.”
Surrounded by adoring fans, 10 month-old Nibbles saw her own shadow. If tradition serves, that means spring will not be coming early in 2008.
Besides reporting the weather, the event was also a chance for visitors to learn all about the groundhog through stories, folklore, music and actual contact with the creatures.
As a tame groundhog, Nibbles helps educate the public about her species. But Naturalist Carlton Burke, a groundhog expert, does not recommend them as pets.
“Nibbles is a resident groundhog; she’s an orphan, raised in captivity. (We) made a bit of a pet out of her, but groundhogs don’t make good pets. Probably because they need to hibernate during winter months.
Being hand-raised by humans means Nibbles lacks essential survival skills, and cannot be returned to the wild.
The tradition of weather forecasting groundhogs began with Punxsatawney Phil, who according to lore and his Web site has been predicting the arrival of spring for 120 years.
Most groundhogs only live six to eight years. Phil, on the other hand, allegedly drinks a special elixir each summer that keeps him alive year after year. There’s no word on whether Phil plans to share his special punch with Nibbles.
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