Who Is Punxsutawney Phil?

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• Groundhog Day

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So who is Punxsutawney Phil?

He does exist, even if what he is famous for doing is a bit far-fetched. (Phil is that famous groundhog who comes out of his hole-in-the-ground home once a year and makes a weather prediction that is taken as official by many people across America.)

Phil is indeed a groundhog. He does indeed live in the little Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney. He lives there with Phyllis, a friendly female groundhog that locals refer to as Phil's wife.

Technically, Phil and Phyllis live in a hole in the ground. However, that hole isn't just any hole in the ground. Despite the cold-weather climate, the two groundhogs live in relative comfort, in a temperature-controlled underground space next to the children's section of the town library. Their hole is full of the comforts of home, including wood and hay and, every so often, food. The town has a Groundhog Club, and members of the club's Inner Circle make sure that Phil and Phyllis are well fed and comfortable. Phil weighs about 12 pounds, which is a couple of pounds more than the average groundhog weighs. The Inner Circle members are careful not to put too much food in the hole for Phil and Phyllis to eat.

All of this is done to make Phil and Phyllis more comfortable, of course. Also, however, the Groundhog Club want Phil to feel at home and not get restless, as happened once a few years back, when he escaped. The panicked population turned out in force to find their favorite furry son and found him in the woods outside town. Returned to his "natural" home, Phil hasn't felt like wandering for a few years now. He's probably more felt like sleeping, since groundhogs are one of the few mammals that do indeed hibernate.

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David White