Oregon Zoo hedgehog forecasts six more weeks of winter

February 2, 2013 - 1:11pm

Jabari sees his shadow, hunkers down until spring

It might be nice outside now, but don't pack those snow tires and chains away just yet. Jabari, the Oregon Zoo's African pygmy hedgehog, saw his shadow today, indicating six more weeks of winter could be in store. Or not.

"Last year, Jabari predicted an early spring, which was not all that accurate here in the Northwest," Smith said. "But our hedgehog does have about the same success rate as Punxsutawney Phil."

According to records from StormFax Weather Almanac, Phil's predictions have been correct about 39 percent of the time. Oregon Zoo hedgehogs have been slightly less successful with a 38 percent accuracy rate.

"Hedgehogs are the traditional weather-prediction experts," said zoo director Kim Smith, who oversaw the zoo's Hedgehog Day festivities. "The groundhog is actually a latecomer to the game. It was only when immigrants to the United States realized their new home didn't have hedgehogs that they turned to the groundhog. Jabari is bringing the holiday back to its origins."

Considering the track record of the zoo's hedgehog though, tradition — and cuteness — might have to count for a lot.