More winter is coming: Staten Island Chuck sees his shadow
Charles G. Hogg, an 8.5-pound weatherman from Staten Island, says six more weeks of winter are coming — and odds are he is right.
Staten Island Chuck, as his fans call him, has been making weather predictions since 1981, forecasting with 82-percent accuracy.
“It’s a cold, hard reality,” Mayor Bill de Blasio announced after Chuck saw his shadow during the Groundhog Day celebration at the Staten Island Zoo.
According to tradition, if groundhogs like Chuck wake during the winter, they will return to hibernation upon seeing their shadow, anticipating a longer winter.
But after Chuck emerged from his small wood hut, he was placed into de Blasio’s hands, which were covered by huge yellow work gloves.
The mayor lost control after a few moments and Chuck flung himself forward. He dropped into the pen, narrowly escaping a hit against a tiny fence.
“He was a little bit nervous,” said zookeeper Kristin Campbell, who held Chuck for the rest of the event. “As much as we work with him, it’s very hard to prepare for an event like this, so it’s a little overwhelming.”
She thinks the mayor had trouble holding Chuck because of the gloves, which became a Groundhog Day staple after he bit former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.
“He’s pretty calm most of the time,” Campbell said of the groundhog. “But he gets a little feisty.”
Other than his first interaction with the new mayor, Chuck remained nonplussed in Campbell’s arms. He sometimes munched on a carrot and corn, but mostly ignored the adoring crowd after years of practice.
While most groundhogs live up to 8 years, Marc Valitutto, general curator and vet at the zoo, insisted Chuck was in his 30s.
In reality, this particular groundhog has been in the game for about three years and is related to the other Chucks, said Brian Morris, vice president of marking and communications at the zoo.
But that doesn’t take away the magic of his predictions.
“Chuck is a little like Santa Claus,” Morris said.
Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders