New York has many rodents, including some that make a pretty penny on Wall Street, but none are as famous as the weather-prognosticating groundhog at the Staten Island Zoo.
Every Feb. 2, the mayor or some other newshog poses with 'Staten Island Chuck,' the zoo's groundhog, as the sedentary mammal predicts an early or late spring.
This year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped Chuck about 6 feet and the animal died Feb. 9 of internal injuries, claims The New York Post.
The Post, usually a calm voice of reason in tragic times, says de Blasio 'has groundhog blood on his hands!' but does not name a source or provide a PDF of an autopsy.
Other Rodentgate revelations? The groundhog used that day was actually a female named Charlotte and the zoo, instead of "revealing the sad loss ... told staff to keep the mayor’s office in the dark about the animal’s fate."
The zoo, which gets nearly half of its $3.5 million in annual funding from the city, may have lied to other city officials.
“I was told he died of old age, that he went to that big farm in the sky,” said Assemblyman Matthew Titone, who doesn't even know the dead groundhog's gender.
The zoo allegedly used Charlotte instead of Chuck because it feared the frisky male would bite the mayor, something that happened when billionaire Michael Bloomberg visited in 2009 and probably said something to Chuck about drinking too many large Coca-Colas.
The zoo said it switches groundhogs to "protect the groundhog brand" and denies de Blasio's dropping of the animal was the cause of death.
Georgia's General Beauregard Lee, who makes his annual weather prediction from Yellow River Game Ranch near Stone Mountain, could not be reached for comment.
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