Alabama Groundhog Sleeps Through Work Day

Better luck next year!

Jamie (Birmingham) Bill groundhog
Photo: Courtesy of The Birmingham Zoo

An Alabama groundhog overslept, causing him to miss his moment in the sun yesterday. As the distinguished guest in the Birmingham Zoo's annual Groundhog Day celebration, Jamie "Birmingham" Bill was supposed to wake up from his slumber to let us know if it's time for spring, or if we'll be waiting another six weeks for warmer weather.

But it's been a long winter, a long January, and a long couple of years, so we can't exactly blame Mr. Bill for sleeping through the shindig.

"We let him decide if he would like to wake up for Groundhog Day or not," Ambassador Animals zoo manager Rebekah Lane told Southern Living. "Right now, he is still hibernating, so it is best for his system to continue to do so until he wakes up naturally."

Groundhogs typically hibernate for three months from late fall to early February, sometimes appearing around February 2 to look for a mate before going back to sleep until March. This year, Birmingham Bill missed his call time to catch some extra Zs, which is perfectly normal as February 2 is just an estimate for when groundhogs will wake. It seems that this year, spring—and love—can wait. Instead, Mr. Bill is focusing on a bit of self-care.

But the fate of the seasons doesn't just rest on Birmingham Bill's sleepy shoulders. If he can't rouse to look for his shadow, there are several other animals on standby to take on the task.

"All different types of animals are used all around the world for weather predictions," Lane said. "Even here at the zoo, we have used different animals such as an opossum and owl for Groundhog Day during years when Jamie Bill was still asleep."

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No other zoo animals were asked to step in this year, so we'll have to defer to the groundhog king himself, Punxsutawney Phil. Unfortunately, he did see his shadow, meaning we're in for another six weeks of cold. Looks like we'll be taking a cue from Birmingham Bill and crawling back into our holes until March.

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