For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2024
Sara Groves 202-483-7382
Babylon, N.Y. – A “Compassionate Government” Award is on its way from PETA to the Village of Babylon after the town hosted a Groundhog Day event in which “Babylon Belle”—a human dressed in a groundhog costume with a cheerful tutu and hair bows—made a lighthearted appearance and predicted an early spring. According to the Village of Babylon’s Facebook page, Mayor Mary E. Adams described the decision as a move to protect wildlife from being “handled, scared, and afraid.”
“Groundhogs can’t predict the weather, but they can feel enormous stress when they’re deprived of the opportunity to hibernate, jostled by members of a larger species, and thrust in front of noisy crowds,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is delighted to recognize the Village of Babylon for chucking the old idea that frightened wildlife are props and setting a tremendous example for other communities to follow.”
PETA notes that groundhogs are naturally shy animals who enjoy burrowing, exploring, and hibernating—but those used in Groundhog Day events are often held in small enclosures year-round or taken from the wild and denied everything that’s natural and important to them.
The Village of Babylon’s animal-friendly celebration was in stark contrast to the Groundhog Day event in Malverne, during which an exploited groundhog reportedly escaped from his pen and nearly made it to the venue’s parking lot before being recaptured by his handler. Numerous towns and cities nationwide have reported similar incidents in which groundhogs have been terrified, injured, or even killed.
The Village of Babylon will receive a framed certificate and delicious vegan chocolates.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.