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PETA: Retire 'Long-Suffering' Punxsutawney Phil, Replace Him With Animatronics

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- PETA wants some big changes made to a longstanding Groundhog Day tradition.

With Phil's big day coming up this weekend, the animal rights group is petitioning The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to retire the famous furry prognosticator.

Instead, PETA says the club should use animatronics with artificial intelligence.

In a press release, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said: "Gentle, vulnerable groundhogs are not barometers. PETA is offering the club a win-win situation: Breathe life into a tired tradition and finally do right by a long-suffering animal."

The letter, addressed directly to the president of The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, says by adding artificial intelligence, the animatronic "could actually predict the weather."

The letter cites today's changing technology as a reason for the change.

The letter reads:

"Today's young people are born into a world of terabytes, and to them, watching a nocturnal rodent being pulled from a fake hole isn't even worthy of a text message. This is a generation whose members book rides on their smart phones and will never walk into a bank to deposit a check. Ignoring the nation's fast-changing demographics might well prove the end of Groundhog Day."

They also say Phil is being deprived of natural groundhog behaviors, like digging and borrowing, by "being relegated to a library habitat."

When Phil isn't appearing on Gobbler's Knob to predict the weather on Groundhog Day, he lives in an enclosure at the Punxsutawney library.

According to PETA's letter, "When Phil is dragged out of his hole and held up to flashing lights and crowds, he has no idea what's happening."

PETA also tells the club they are ready and willing to make recommendations on sanctuaries where Phil could spend his retirement.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club says they will soon be issuing a statement on PETA's letter.

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