Shubenacadie Sam sees shadow, predicts six more weeks of winter

Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam has seen her shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.

The groundhog emerged from her burrow to make her annual prediction just after at 8 a.m. Thursday at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in Shubenacadie, N.S.

“Don’t put away your hat and mitts yet,” Sam said on Twitter after her prediction.

Sam also saw her shadow last year.

If Sam hadn’t seen her shadow, an early spring would be in store, according to folklore.

“Some people say it even goes back to 16th century Germany and a tradition of observing badgers and other wildlife,” said Dr. Andrew Morrison, a manager and veterinarian at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, after Sam’s prediction. “It’s just a matter of observing what happens in nature and sort of learning a few things from it.”

Shubenacadie Sam was joined by a much larger groundhog mascot, who danced and shivered in Thursday’s cold temperatures before the real Sam emerged from her home.

Sam slowly left her burrow’s door before scurrying over to about 50 park visitors watching by a nearby fence. Morrison estimates crowds would have been bigger if not for the frigid temperatures.

This year’s event was the first in-person Groundhog Day prediction at the park since 2019.

Sam’s prediction was confirmed within seconds before she went back in her burrow for a rest and a reward.

“She’s going back to bed. She’s gonna warm up and take the day off,” says Morrison, who adds that getting Sam set up for Groundhog Day is “a bit of a procedure.”

“(She) has to be warm … she has to be awake and come out and make sure she’s got a really good breakfast, does her stretches, and then she pops.”

Groundhogs are normally hibernating this time of year.

“Some time around now is when some of them will start to emerge from hibernation and they’ll pop out to take a look around and see how the weather’s going,” Morrison says.

“If the weather’s good, then they’re gonna stay out and start looking for food. If the weather’s cold, they’re gonna go back underground and sleep another few weeks.”

Sam is the first groundhog in North America to make a prediction, about an hour before other groundhogs in Ontario and the eastern United States. 

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