Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

What’s Shakin’ at the Yekaterinburg Zoopark? Pugovka the Hedgehog Predicts an Early Spring, That’s What!

00 Pugovka the Hedgehog. Groundhog Day. Russia. Yekaterinburg Zoo. 03.02.15

She chose “sunny” for an early spring! That’s what’s shakin’ at the Yekaterinburg Zoopark…

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On Monday, Pugovka, a long-eared Russian hedgehog at the Yekaterinburg Zoopark, promised the people of the Urals an early spring, in a local event rivalling the American holiday Groundhog Day. Handlers placed Pugovka, the Russian diminutive for “button” or “buttonette” on a mat before two separate sets of plates with her favourite delicacies, including curds, carrots, and ground meat, with the phrases “early spring”, “late spring”, “sunny”, and “cloudy”. Unable to make up her mind at first, Pugovka eventually chose “early spring”. Then, hesitating a bit between “’sunny” and “cloudy”, she ended up at “sunny”, signalling an early and sunny spring. This is Pugovka’s fourth year serving as prognosticator. A Yekaterinburg Zoopark statement noted, “This event is similar to the overseas Groundhog Day and the ancient Roman Hedgehog Day, where the animals make predictions regarding the coming spring. However, our zoopark doesn’t have a groundhog, so our long-eared hedgehog Pugovka got the job. This year, she continued her responsibility… to determine what kind of weather awaits us when spring begins”.

German immigrants brought customs to the USA that became the famous American holiday Groundhog Day, popularised around the world by the 1993 film of the same name. According to the American tradition, if Punxsutawney Phil leaves his burrow and doesn’t see his shadow, his country will have an early spring. This year, Phil emerged from his burrow atop Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania and saw his shadow, forecasting six more weeks of winter for North America. In recent years, some Russian cities decided to celebrate the holiday themselves, but using hedgehogs instead of groundhogs. The groundhogs used in America, the Marmota monax, only range in North America; in Russia, the hedgehog is a widespread woodland animal, having much forest and cultural lore. North American groundhogs in Russian zooparks usually sleep through the 2 February holiday, given the longer Russian winters.

2 February 2015

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/art_living/20150202/1017660774.html

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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Great Friday News: Moscow Zoopark Groundhog Wakes Up, Spring Coming Soon! Shall Surok Surokovich Replace Punxsutawney Phil? Ya NEVER Know…

01ac Groundhog Day

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The Moscow Zoopark announced on Facebook, “Friends, we have good news. Spring is coming soon. Our groundhog woke up”. Groundhogs come out of hibernation when temperatures start to rise. Hibernation is less like a deep sleep and more like a coma; the groundhog’s heart rate plunges, blood scarcely flows, body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, and breathing nearly stops. Towards the end of their hibernation period, groundhogs awaken briefly several times and pop out of their burrows to check the weather. They may or may not go back to sleep depending on how cold or warm the weather is. After they emerge from hibernation, groundhogs live on their remaining body fat for a couple of weeks to bring their digestive organs back to normal and to prepare for the mating season. They disguise entrances to their burrows to protect them from predators. Mating starts after groundhogs put on some weight.

Groundhogs offer their weather predictions not only in Russia. In the tiny Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, a groundhog weatherman named Punxsutawney Phil made his forecasts since 1887. According to groundhog.org, after the animal appeared in the philosophical comedy film Groundhog Day in 1993, record crowds numbering as many as 30,000 went to the event. With a shadow powerful enough to lift spirits… or dash them… Phil met Pennsylvania governors, appeared on national television talk shows, and on New York City‘s Times Square JumboTron. In 1986, he even travelled to Washington to meet with US President Ronald Reagan. This year, Phil saw his shadow on 2 February, signifying six more weeks of winter.

21 February 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_02_21/Great-Friday-news-Moscow-Zoo-groundhog-wakes-up-signifies-spring-coming-soon-0933/

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