PORTLAND, Ore. -- Punxsutawney Phil isn't the only one calling for an early spring, so is Nancy, the Oregon Zoo’s African pygmy hedgehog.
Nancy did not see her shadow Saturday morning, meaning an early spring could be in store here in the Northwest as well.
Animal Curator Tanya Paul, who oversees the zoo’s hedgehog family, said hedgehogs are the real weather experts of the animal world.
“Groundhogs like Punxsutawney Phil are relative newcomers to the game,” Paul said. “According to folklore, the Europeans who originated the tradition originally used hedgehogs. When they immigrated to the United States, they realized their new home didn’t have hedgehogs, so they turned to the groundhog out of necessity.”
Paul said the zoo’s hedgehogs have fared slightly better than Punxsutawney Phil, which admittedly is not that great.
“Last year FuFu predicted an early spring, which was not very accurate for this region. We had that big snowstorm right after Presidents Day and had to close the zoo for a few days," said Paul.
According to StormFax Weather Almanac, Phil’s predictions have been correct about 39 percent of the time. Oregon Zoo hedgehogs have been slightly more successful with about a 50 percent accuracy rate.