Wiarton Willie Has it "Made in the Shade"!

Posted: February 1, 2010 by Matthew Casey in Commentaries
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Tomorrow is February 2, maybe better known as Groundhog Day.  It’s the day in the middle of the dead of Winter that sees the celebration of  a tradition that dates back to 1841.   Everyone looks to a furry little animal in some hope that he won’t see his shadow and everyone will be blessed with an early Spring.  It might be false hope but at least it gives people something to cling to during the cold hard Winter!

Even with all of today’s weather forecasting technology this tradition still stands and many people believe it to be more accurate than the local TV weatherman.  Now whether or not a furry little creature can predict the weather remains to be seen.  Although, one thing for sure about the tradition is it’s a day that there are usually no protesters against it.  That is until now.

A group that people may well be aware of is PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  PETA protests against Canada’s annual seal hunt, and they like to make bold demonstrations by throwing pies at political figure’s faces–cue Gail Shea.  Well now this group is frowning upon another tradition, Groundhog Day.   They want the town of Wiarton, Ontario to invest in a robotic version of Willie, the local groundhog, and for Wiarton to stop keeping a real groundhog in captivity.

Now, I’m an animal lover myself and I don’t have anything against this organization but isn’t this going a little too far? According to Wiarton’s mayor Gwen Gilbert, Wiarton Willie has it “made in the shade” by groundhog standards.  Firstly, he’s kept in a climate controlled house that is also kept very clean, he gets fresh vegetables and greens every morning delivered to him, he gets a bi-annual check up from his own personal veterinarian, and he is safe from all predators.  Now if this is unethical treatment of an animal then I think he could live with this!  He has it a lot better than most of his groundhog friends who face diseases and being eaten by a coyote on a daily basis in the wild.

All I have to say is, PETA  leave this alone!  This animal is treated better than some children in parts of the world and is exposed to a crowd all but once a year. I think given the facts of his life he probably lives better than any other groundhog in the wild.  Groundhog Day is a fun tradition that brings some joy to people in the midst of the depressing winter, so let’s not try and ruin it!  A robotic version of Wiarton Willie simply won’t do.  Sorry PETA, I’m not with you on this one.

—Matthew Casey


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