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Few groundhogs scheduled for Southeast Wisconsin Groundhog Day appearances

Polar bear, skunk usurp day from groundhogs
Posted at 4:52 AM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 10:31:26-05

After more than 120 years of questionable groundhog weather predictions, Wisconsin zoos are turning to other critters to determine the arrival of spring.

After Sunny the groundhog's surprising retirement following the 2017 prediction, the Racine County Zoo is turning the prognostication reigns over to resident skunk, Minnie. 

"Minne has graciously accepted the new role," zoo officials said. 

Despite Minne's nature, the staying power of winter will not be determined by smell. Instead, she will search for her shadow tomorrow morning live on the Zoo's Facebook page at 9 a.m. 

Over at the Milwaukee County Zoo, a sudden change from groundhog to polar bear is due to some sobering circumstances. 

Nearly a month after predicting there would be six more weeks of winter, Wynter the groundhog passed away at an estimated age of nine

Wynter left some big paws to fill, so the Zoo turned to the biggest set of paws they knew, Snow Lilly the Polar Bear. 

While the 33-year-old behemoth bear might be new to the prognostication game, Polar Bears have a long history in meteorology. 

According to the Zoo's website, Groundhog Day, which dates back to 1887, is said to have originated from ancient European Weather lore in which a badger or a bear predicts the weather. 

Since bears, like groundhogs, are a hibernating species, they will emerge from their dens at a similar time. 

So, if Snow Lilly sees her shadow at 10:30 a.m., she'll return to her cave for six more weeks of winter, but if she doesn't an early spring may be on the way. 

The only town keeping things traditional is the Sun Prairie. They will feature a traditional groundhog.