Winnipeg Willow, the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre's groundhog, has predicted an early spring.
Winnipeg Willow made her prediction at Fort Whyte Alive early this morning on Groundhog Day.
"For today, February 2, 2014, Willow did not see her shadow. Therefore. she has predicted an early spring," said Melanie Ives, a PWRC volunteer.
Education volunteer Andy Pulo, who was handling Willow on her big day, said groundhogs in the wild are usually hibernating at this time of year. Willow was sleepy but managed to make her prediction and then cuddle back into cozy towels in her transportation crate.
"Last year, Willow incorrectly predicted an early spring and, looking to redeem herself, she hopes to begin her winning streak again," Ives said.
In her third year of predictions, Willow is 1-1 coming into 2014.
In what can only be great news for Manitobans, Manitoba Merv at Oak Hammock Marsh agreed with Willow.
As part of the celebrations for World Wetlands Day at Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba Merv, who is a puppet, also predicted an early spring with the absence of his shadow.
Not surprisingly, predications varied among groundhog prognosticators around North America.
In Ontario, Wiarton Willie emerged from his cozy den this morning and immediately spotted his shadow, which according to groundhog folklore means residents of that province can expect six more weeks of what has already been a long, cold, snowy winter.
A little earlier Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam waddled out into the morning light, but unlike Willie, he did not see his shadow — indicating warmer days are just ahead.
Fred la Marmotte in Val d’Espoir, a town in Quebec Gaspésie region, wasn’t deterred by falling snow. He rendered a early-spring verdict for Jour de la Marmotte.
As for America’s rodent royalty, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil — the most famous groundhog of them all — he did see his shadow this morning, heralding another month and a half of Old Man winter.
However, regardless of what the groundhogs may be trying to tell us, Environment Canada is predicting the frigid temperatures that have gripped much of the country for the past two months will likely persist right through February.
-with files from The Canadian Press