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Mayor Bill De Blasio Ducks Dead Groundhog Questions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio is declining to discuss the groundhog that died a week after slipping from his grasp.

The Staten Island Zoo confirmed last week that the rodent died seven days after this year's Groundhog Day ceremony.

Staten Island Chuck fell several feet from de Blasio's hands. The zoo said there is no evidence the fall led to the animal's death.

The zoo said Chuck was actually a stand-in named Charlotte. It also said it may change the proceedings next year so the mayor won't hold the groundhog.

De Blasio on Monday deferred all questions about the groundhog to the zoo, including one on how he felt upon learning of Charlotte's death.

A zoo spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment about the mayor's feelings.

Charlotte was found dead in her exhibit Feb. 9, and a necropsy revealed "sudden internal injuries," according to the zoo.

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 suffered the injuries "sometime during the week after Groundhog Day, potentially overnight while in its exhibit."

Zoo officials did not tell the mayor's office about the death.

"There was no reason to do it," zoo spokesman Brian Morris told The Associated Press. "It's not like we were trying to spare the mayor's feelings."

This year was de Blasio's first time doing the annual ceremony. He wore heavy work gloves on the cold winter day, in part as a safety precaution after Staten Island Chuck bit then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009, Morris said.

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