Oregon Zoo hedgehog forecasts six more weeks of winter

February 2, 2014 - 4:19pm

Mayzie sees her shadow, hunkers down until spring

It might be nice outside now, but don't pack those scarves and mittens away just yet. Mayzie, an African pygmy hedgehog at the Oregon Zoo, saw her shadow today, indicating six more weeks of winter could be in store.

At 10:30 a.m., visitors gathered in the zoo entry plaza to watch the proceedings, some bearing signs with slogans like "Hedgehogs RULE!" and "HEY, Punxsutawney Phil! You Ain't Nothin' but a Groundhog!!"

"The groundhog is actually a latecomer to the game," said zoo director Kim Smith, who presided over this morning's Hedgehog Day festivities. "It was only when immigrants to the United States realized their new home didn't have hedgehogs that they turned to the groundhog. Mayzie is bringing the holiday back to its origins. Plus, we think she's cuter than Phil."

Tradition — and cuteness — might have to count for a lot. 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 33 percent accuracy rate.

"Last year, our hedgehog predicted six more weeks of winter too, which did not end up being all that accurate here in the Northwest," Smith said. "But our hedgehogs do have nearly the same success rate as Punxsutawney Phil. And this is Mayzie's first time forecasting, so she's never been wrong."