POLITICS
09/25/2014 02:49 pm ET Updated Sep 26, 2014

Staten Island Groundhog Died One Week After Being Dropped By Mayor De Blasio

By Nicholas Rizzi

WEST BRIGHTON — Staten Island's forecaster didn't foresee how grim a run-in with the mayor would be.

A week after Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped Staten Island Chuck on Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, the furry spring predictor died of internal injuries, the New York Post reported.

But, according to the paper, Staten Island Zoo officials took great care to keep the groundhog's death a secret — as well as the fact that the rodent was not really the Staten Island celebrity critter, but a stand-in named Charlotte.

Sources told the paper that Charlotte was found dead on Feb. 9 in her cage. An autopsy found that she died from "acute internal injuries," which are consistent with a fall.

When de Blasio tried to hold the groundhog during the ceremony, Charlotte squirmed in the mayor's hands and eventually fell to the floor.

Zoo officials told staff to keep the groundhog's death a secret and never revealed that Charlotte stood in for Chuck because they feared he would bite the new mayor — as he had his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Post reported.

A spokesman for the zoo told DNAinfo New York that the animal was given a complete medical examination after the fall and showed no evidence of trauma or pain.

The spokesman said her death was most likely from injuries she got during the week of Groundhog Day, but not from the fall.

"Given the results of the necropsy, the incident appears to have been sudden. It appears unlikely that the animal’s death is related to the events on Groundhog Day," the spokesman said.

A spokesman for de Blasio said he did not know of the critter's death, but offered condolences. 

"We were unaware that Staten Island Chuck had passed, but are sorry to hear of the loss," spokesman Phil Walzak said.

The zoo also plans to keep Staten Island Chuck benched during next year's Groundhog Day ceremony and use his daughter, also named Charlotte, instead, the Post reported.

HuffPost

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