New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped a groundhog at the Staten Island Zoo — and the injuries it may have sustained from the fall could have led to its death.
De Blasio dropped the groundhog on Feb. 2 while celebrating Groundhog Day. But when the groundhog died days later of "internal injuries," the zoo began an elaborate cover-up, according to The New York Post.
The Post reports that officials at the Staten Island Zoo "went to great lengths to hide the death from the public." And that wasn't the only secret the zoo was keeping — according to the Post, the male groundhog, Chuck, was actually a female groundhog, Charlotte. The zoo was afraid Chuck would bite de Blasio, since he bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009, so they employed the use of Charlotte for the celebration instead.
Charlotte was found dead in her habitat at the zoo on Feb. 9, and her autopsy revealed she died of "acute internal injuries." She fell nearly six feet when de Blasio dropped her, and her injuries were apparently "consistent with a fall."
The Staten Island Zoo told a handful of zoo supporters that the groundhog had died, but claimed it was from "natural causes." The Post reports that zoo staff were instructed to "keep the mayor's office in the dark about the animal's fate," since the zoo gets almost half its annual funding from the city.
"I was told he died of old age, that he went to that big farm in the sky," Assemblyman Matthew Titone, a Democrat from Staten Island, told the Post, after learning of the groundhog's injuries. --Meghan DeMaria