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Groundhog dropped by NYC mayor later died

NEW YORK -- The animal that escaped Mayor Bill de Blasio's grasp during this year's Groundhog Day ceremony reportedly died a week after the fall.

The animal was found dead in its exhibit and a necropsy revealed "sudden internal injuries," Staten Island Zoo spokesman Brian Morris told CBS New York after a report in the New York Post.

The exact cause of the injuries could not be determined, but the zoo said "the incident appears to have been sudden" and the animal most likely sustained the injuries "sometime during the week after Groundhog Day, potentially overnight while in its exhibit."

The zoo's veterinarian immediately examined the animal after the Feb. 2 incident and found "no evidence of trauma or pain, with the animal displaying normal behavior."

"It appears unlikely that the animal's death is related to the events on Groundhog Day," Morris said.

In another revelation, it turns out that the groundhog the mayor lost hold of was not the well-known Staten Island Chuck, who has made predictions in years past, but a female stand-in named Charlotte, 1010 WINS Mona Rivera reported.

Charlotte stepped in for Chuck because the zoo was afraid the groundhog, which bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009, would also bite de Blasio, the New York Post reported.

The New York Post called the fact that the zoo didn't notify the mayor's office about the groundhog's demise a "cover-up," a charge denied by Staten Island Assemblyman Matthew Titone.

"There is no 'Chuckgate,'" Titone told 1010 WINS radio. "The mayor is not responsible for this animal's death."

"We were unaware that Staten Island Chuck had passed but are sorry to hear of the loss," de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak told the Post, saying the mayor's office learned of the death from the paper.

The story prompted jokes on social media Thursday about a #Groundhoghazi conspiracy.

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