| || || ||January 12, 2009
| ||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Note: Images of Brookfield Zoo's groundhogs may be downloaded at our photo download page.
Furry Forecasters at Brookfield Zoo Take Center Stage on Groundhog Day
Brookfield, IL—If warmer weather cannot come soon enough for you, then hope for a cloudy day on Monday, February 2. Brookfield Zoo’s furry forecasters, Cloudy and Tumbleweed, will be making the annual prediction during the zoo’s Groundhog Day celebration beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the Children’s Zoo.
During the event, zookeepers will place a carrot-shaped sweet potato cake in front of the groundhogs’ winter digs to try and coax them out. According to legend, if a groundhog sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; if it doesn’t, spring is just around the corner. Since 2001, Cloudy has predicted an early spring five times. Tumbleweed predicted an early spring at her debut last year.
Normally at this time of year, when the air temperature is a consistent 50°F or below, groundhogs are hibernating. During this dormant state, a groundhog’s body temperature drops from 90°F to 38°F. It takes a breath about once every minute, and its heart slows to only four to six beats a minute. When the temperature begins to warm, it may take several hours for a groundhog to rouse from its slumber. If Cloudy and Tumbleweed are still hibernating, zookeepers will not disturb them as this could disrupt the animals’ metabolism.
But guests need not worry about missing out on seeing a groundhog. They can head over to Children’s Zoo’s Big Barn to see Stormy, the zoo’s third resident woodchuck. He is housed indoors year-round and does not go into a true hibernating state.
After the weather prediction is announced, guests are invited to join in the Groundhog Day Parade led by the zoo’s woodchuck costumed character. The parade kicks off outside the Children’s Zoo entrance and concludes at Hamill Family Play Zoo, where guests can participate in a variety of groundhog-themed crafts and activities until 3:00 p.m.
While at the Play Zoo, guests can see some critters that inspired the inception of Groundhog Day in Europe. In the 18th century, hedgehogs—which are indigenous to Europe, where winters are typically milder than in North America’s Midwest—came out of hibernation in early February. Their appearance was a sign to farmers that it was time to begin spring planting. Since there are no hedgehogs native to the United States, the tradition was transferred to groundhogs. A special Zoo Chat about hedgehogs will be held at 11:30 a.m.
Groundhog Day activities are free with general zoo admission of $12 for adults and $8 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and over. Admission to Children’s Zoo and Hamill Family Play Zoo is free on February 2. Parking is $8. The Groundhog Day celebration is sponsored by American Airlines. For further information, visit the zoo’s Web site at www.CZS.org or call (708) 688-8000.
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit www.CZS.org.
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