Houston will see an early spring this year according to the prognostications of Remley the babirusa, a rare Indonesian pig. The Houston Zoo held "Babirusa Day" Thursday, using a endangered hog because the zoo doesn't have a groundhog.
To facilitate Remley's job, zoo employees set out two weather scenes representing spring and winter. In the spring scene, handlers laid out watermelon slices on a pink-checked picnic blanket; for winter, icy treats containing figs and carrots awaited her in a field of "snow."
Remley shuffled around in the seventy-degree weather for a moment before being tempted, perhaps predictably, by the watermelon. "Remley entered the babirusa exhibit and trotted over to the snowman, flirted briefly with ‘winter’ and then dove enthusiastically into ‘summer’ enjoying a watermelon treat," Kelly Russo wrote at the Houston Zoo blog.
Babirusa are very intelligent animals, and much more suited to Houston's sweltering climate than groundhogs. "Groundhogs don't really work here. And babirusa, well, they're hogs and the live on the ground," Houston Zoo spokesman Brian Hill told the TM Daily Post .
Elsewhere on the Houston Zoo's website Peter Riger took the time to denigrate the prognosticating prowess of the groundhog:
Lets get something straight, 'Groundhog' are not the Nostradamus of the rodent world. They can barely remember which drawer they left their pants in, let alone predict the changing of the seasons.