Groundhog Day, Russian Style: Moscow Zoo’s Critters Sleep Straight Through Their Holiday
18:33 GMT 02.02.2022 (Updated: 18:56 GMT 02.02.2022)
Wednesday is Groundhog Day, a popular tradition observed in the US and Canada forecasting when spring will come by having a groundhog emerge from its burrow to determine whether or not it sees its shadow. If it does, winter is expected to continue for six more weeks. If not, so the legend goes, spring will come early.
The groundhogs living at the Moscow Zoo slept straight through their holiday as usual this year due to local climactic conditions and the critters’ longer hibernation period in the harsh Russian winter.
“Our groundhogs, named Archie, Nagini and Sarah – have ignored their ‘official holiday’ as is customary and did not wake up. That’s because 2 February and Groundhog Day is celebrated in the US and a number of other countries where the average weather is already much higher than ours by this time. Furthermore, two different kinds of groundhogs live in Russia and the United States. The American groundhog is a forest marmot, while Russia’s is a steppe marmot. Ours is characterised by a longer hibernation period, which lasts between three and six months,” the Zoo explained in a press statement.
The Zoo also released a short video with an excerpt from the famous 1993 Bill Murray film "Groundhog Day" and the equally famous Sonny and Cher song "I got you babe," along with footage of the groundhogs’ burrow as it looks today, and how it will look when spring finally arrives.
Tweet reads: “As is customary, the groundhogs in Moscow overslept their ‘official’ holiday. Our groundhogs are steppe marmots and their hibernation lasts longer than those of the forest marmots which populate the US and Canada.”
This year, Russia’s groundhogs went into hibernation earlier than usual, foreshadowing a longer and snowier than usual winter. They haven’t been wrong about the snow thus far, with Moscow experiencing its heaviest snowfalls since 1949 in December, and the capital and other cities across the country expected to be hit by a fresh snowpocalypse unseen in nearly 70 years in the coming days.
The Moscow Zoo expect Russia’s groundhogs to come out of their burrows when it warms up, perhaps by the end of the month. It’s more likely though that they will sleep straight through February and wake up in March, as usual.