In late January, the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) offered to replace Punxsutawney Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog, with a giant gold coin. PETA argues that Phil should be sent to a sanctuary and that since his predictions are only accurate 40 percent of the time, a coin toss would yield better results, making for an all-around win. Phil currently lives in an enclosure at the local library in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He makes a public appearance every year on Groundhog Day.
PETA’s petition to The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club states, “A giant coin—featuring one side that predicts ‘six more weeks of winter’ and the other an ‘early spring’—would provide the Groundhog Club with a means of weather prognostication that would no doubt end up being more accurate than Phil, a sentient individual who surely has never consented to being the town’s ‘meteorologist.’”
The organization also suggests that Groundhog Day be changed to Weather There’ll Be More Winter Day. PETA stated in a press release that the group’s “previous offers to provide a willing human replacement for Phil, who would live in his small enclosure and take his place making unscientific weather predictions, or to plant a persimmon tree, whose seeds are believed by some farmers to indicate the weather ahead, still stand.”
A version of this article appears in the March 2024 issue of The Numismatist (money.org).