Punxsutawney Phil, America's favorite groundhog, predicted an early spring when he failed to see his shadow Wednesday morning at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa.
Early spring predictions are rare for Phil. But Mike Johnston, vice president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, insisted that the groundhog's failure to see his shadow was based solely on his accurate foreknowledge of weather trends. Reuters reported Wednesday:
Johnston said the latest prognostication will be entirely accurate, and does not reflect any desire on Phil's part to cheer up Americans who are suffering through a grueling winter.
"There is no question that Phil is capable of feeling empathy," Johnston said in an interview. "But he is absolutely incapable of error."
Others doubt Phil's infallibility, however. And his record of accuracy isn't the only controversy that has surrounded the groundhog in recent years: In 2010, PETA protested the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's continued reliance on Phil as a weather predictor/tourist attraction and asked the group to move him to a sanctuary and replace him with an animatronic groundhog replica.