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10 Animals With Better Jobs Than You


8
Jimmy the Groundhog
Groundhog handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2, 2012. Jimmy the Groundhog handles the same duties in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and bit the town's mayor in 2015. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Groundhog handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2, 2012. Jimmy the Groundhog handles the same duties in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and bit the town's mayor in 2015. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Over in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil has been hard at work predicting the duration of winter on Groundhog Day since 1886 [source: The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club]. But Phil has a rival in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, a critter with a little more bite in his "bark." Jimmy is a furry, brown groundhog residing in Sun Prairie, a city of 30,000 just outside of Madison. Every February 2 (Groundhog Day), Jimmy predicts whether Americans will have six more weeks of winter or an early spring, just like Phil.

The first Jimmy began his weather duties in 1948, as part of Wisconsin's celebration of its centennial year. As the lifespan of a groundhog in captivity is just nine to 14 years, new groundhogs are regularly recruited for the position of whispering the weather forecast to the town's mayor [sources: City of Sun Prairie, Chambers].

All went well, until one groundhog decided to not play along. On Feb. 2, 2015, Jimmy XI's handler moved the furry beast next to Sun Prairie mayor Jonathan Freund's ear so he could whisper his prediction. Instead, Jimmy, apparently in a foul mood after having his wintertime slumber disturbed, bit the offending ear. The resulting viral video put Jimmy on the map, all right. Not only that — authorities realized Jimmy's owners didn't have a permit to keep wild animals, so they had to release him back into nature. In an abundance of caution, the replacement, Jimmy XII, was forced to give his 2016 prediction to new mayor Paul Esser through a cage [source: NBC 15].


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