Groundhog Dies After Escaping Mayor’s Grip

NEW YORK (AP) -

Her shadow was one of the last things she saw.

The groundhog that escaped Mayor Bill de Blasio’s grasp during this year’s Staten Island Zoo Groundhog Day ceremony died a week after the fall.

But the rodent, which had just predicted six more weeks of winter before tumbling several feet from the mayor’s hands, was not the zoo’s famed Staten Island Chuck, but rather a stand-in named Charlotte.

Moreover, the zoo did not notify the mayor’s office of the death, which was first reported by The New York Post. “We were unaware that Staten Island Chuck had passed but are sorry to hear of the loss,” mayoral spokesman Phil Walzak said.

This 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 Chuck bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.

A zoo spokesman said Thursday that the groundhog’s handler “may not have been forceful enough” in placing the animal in de Blasio’s hands, preventing the mayor from getting a firm grip. The groundhog quickly squirmed away from the inexperienced mayor and plummeted to the ground.