For immediate release
JACKSONVILLE ZOO AND MOSH OFFICIALS SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON GROUNDHOG DAY
February 02, 2011 - Jacksonville, Fl -
Although Punxsutawney Phil hogs most of the attention on Groundhog Day, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) experts said that Parker, the hedgehog, in fact, is the one to watch. The press conference was held at MOSH’s newly renovated Bryan-Gooding Planetarium. Maria Hane, Executive Director of MOSH and Tony Vecchio, Executive Director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, opened the ceremony for the hedgehog’s prediction attended by twenty area students. Vecchio noted that as insectivores, hedgehogs are biologically equipped to make the annual weather prediction, and rodents, such as the groundhog, are not. When the prediction was announced, the sun shown on the planetarium dome and music played.
“We are trilled to partner with the Jacksonville Zoo for this special Groundhog Day presentation. It is another example of the spirit of collaboration that exists among our City’s cultural and educational institutions,” said Hane. “By working together, we are able to present more engaging programs for our visitors.”
Long before the advent of Groundhog Day on February 2nd, the Romans observed a similar event thousands of years ago on the exact same day—with a hedgehog. It wasn’t until immigrants came to North America and realized that there were no hedgehogs here that they began using groundhogs.
“Despite one failed attempt after another to accurately predict the weather, Americans still look to the groundhog for advice,” said Vecchio. “Groundhogs are rodents, and hedgehogs are insectivores. An insectivore needs to know when the weather is warm enough for insects to be present, the ground to be unfrozen, etc., to ensure that there will be food around. A rodent can eat anything that he finds, regardless of the weather. Farmers in the old world knew to watch the insectivores to determine when things were warming up.”
The Museum of Science & History (MOSH) is located at 1025 Museum Circle near Friendship Park. MOSH, first chartered in 1941, inspires the joy of lifelong learning by bringing to life the sciences and regional history. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for active and retired military, $8 for children ages 3 through 12. There is no admission fee for children 2 and under or museum members. Admission is $5 on Fridays.
For more than 96 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been dedicated to inspiring the discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experience in a caring environment. Preservation of sustainable biodiversity is a key mission of the Zoo. From its beginning in 1914, with an animal collection that consisted of only one red deer fawn, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has become one of the top zoos in the nation, now with more than 1,800 rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 unique plant species. The Zoo is a non-profit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is open year-round, seven-days-a-week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and is located on Jacksonville’s north side at 370 Zoo Parkway, one-half mile east from I-95. For more information, go to jacksonvillezoo.org.