Imagine If You Will a Robotic Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day

This of course means that every day is a new day to summon yet another spasm of outrage and cite a further example of man's inhumanity -- to animals. On this particular Groundhog Day, PETA has outdone themselves, a difficult task indeed.

Seems the always creative and ever outrageous animals rights group -- again, engaged in staging its own fascinating theater of rant -- is all fired up that our nation's beloved weather-forecasting groundhog is forced to endure screaming throngs, flashing camera lights and the rank humilation of human handling.

PETA wants a stand-in for Punxsutawney Phil.

Not an ordinary stand-in, mind you, but an animatronic version of shy, vulnerable and exploited old Phil. That's right, a robotic rodent, a groundhog bot to emerge from its cage and tell us (yes, PETA says it could even be programmed to speak!) whether he's seen his shadow, thus adding six more weeks to winter.

They're kidding, right?

Well, no. PETA never kids.

"We're not kidding. We're serious abou this. They are humane alternatives to captive wildlife," Debbie Leahy, PETA's director of captive animals told the Daily RFT yesterday, when reached at her home office outside Chicago, in Warrenville, Illinois.

"The technology is already there, in movies and so on. With a robotic groundhog, it could move and walk -- and even speak for himself," Leahy went on. "And Phil would be a lot happier, too, instead of living in a cage in a library basement."

Leahy and her PETA cohorts also envision robotic dolphins at Sea World, animatronic penguins, why entire zoos, in fact, its animals all turned electronic.

Groundhog Day organizers in Punxsutwaney, Pennsylvania, brushed off the idea, calling it another PETA PR stunt.

"Well," sniffed Leahy, "we're saying what they do is a publicity stunt."

She does have a point there.

Happy Groundhog Day!

P.S. In Pennsylvania today the real Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter.

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