Animal-rights advocacy group PETA has launched a full-scale attack on the nation’s largest Groundhog Day celebration. Earlier this week, the group sent the organizers of the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, event a letter demaning an end to "inhumane" treatment of Punxsutawney Phil (the town's famous shadow-gazing rodent). The purported abuses include exposing the animal to “large, screaming crowds," flash photography, and excessive handling. PETA's proposed solution? A robot groundhog. Is the suggestion crazy — or compassionate? (Watch a report about PETA's efforts to replace the groundhog with a robot)

PETA might be on to something: Punxsutawney Phil’s made numerous attempts to “escape” his year-round home at the town library, points out Lindsay Barnett at the LA Times. And don't forget that Staten Island's resident groundhog bit New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year. Perhaps these are indications that the creatures are "yearning for the greener pastures of rodent retirement"?
"PETA wants to replace famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil with an animatronic replica"

Phil’s got it easier than most groundhogs: A great deal of time and money is devoted to exterminating rodents like Phil, says Adam Church at Manolith. Meanwhile Phil is "fat and sassy," with caretakers looking after his "every need" — he even has a climate-controlled "underground lair." I suspect most groundhogs (or rats, or mice, or...) would switch places with him in a heartbeat.
 “PETA Wants to Use A Robot Groundhog”

A robotic groundhog — is that technically feasible? How would a digitized groundhog detect his shadow?, wonders Steve Anderson at Gadget Review. Would it use a "light sensor" or a "barometric pressure" device to test the weather? Or would it "just pop out and do something at random," leaving everyone else to soothsay – "kind of like the actual groundhog does now?"
"Will Punxsutawney Phil be next to lose his job To a machine?"