A groundhog in Kentucky died on Groundhog Day shortly after delivering an “early prediction” for the annual Feb. 2 tradition, according to a wildlife rehabilitation center in the state.
Second Chances Wildlife Center wrote Friday on social media that Major, who lived at its facility, sadly and “most ironically” died peacefully overnight on “His day.”
The center, based in the city of Mount Washington, noted that Major’s death was due to his age, at nearly 10 years old, along with heart issues.
“He was full of amazing energy up until the end. He will forever be in our hearts,” it wrote.
“It’s a sad day for us at the Center, especially for those who have been with us his whole life. We know you are sad too. Hugs to all of our friends. Know that he is at peace eating treats, walking about, and ringing all the bells.”
Just days before his death, Major predicted an early spring — much like the famed Punxsutawney Phil did this year — and passed his prognostication duties to another groundhog at the center, Josie Burrow, who made her Groundhog Day debut Friday, the Lexington Herald Leader noted.
“Since he was passing the torch to Josie, he told her what to say,” the center wrote of Major’s successor, who is named after Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
“She was a bit nervous on what to do so of course Major took care of things. He rang and rang his bells to get out of his enclosure. When we let him out, he went straight to Josie to coach her. Great teamwork.”
Brigette Brouillard, the founder and executive director of the center, told Lexington’s WLEX that Major was a baby when he first arrived at Second Chances, before he started making Groundhog Day predictions on whether there’d be an early spring or a long winter.
“Major owned his day like no other,” the center wrote on social media. “It’s so in his character. We will always remember you, Major. We will listen for your bells.”