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What the Chuck?!
Online spectators blasted the Staten Island Zoo on Tuesday for airing a snow-free, pre-recorded video of Chuck making his early-spring prediction — instead of doing it live like in years past.
The annual Groundhog Day event was held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic but viewers were left believing they’d be getting a real-time look at Chuck — it was billed as a Facebook Live event with no mention that the spectacle was actually pre-recorded.
In the 20-minute video the rodent is easily coaxed from his den and stopping to bask in the warm sunshine, with nary a snowflake in sight.
Investors Bank District Manager Brian Gomez unfurled a scroll declaring, “I think I know what the answer is, we’ll have an early spring!” the footage shows.
The event aired alongside a “paid partnership” tag.
“So there ya have it, folks, we’re gonna have an early spring brought to you by Staten Island Chuck and our sponsor, Investors Bank,” the zoo’s Executive Director Ken Mitchell says in the video.
But those following along claimed they were bamboozled.
“How do you FAKE a Groundhog prediction?” one person commented. “There was not a drop of snow on the ground, they were out in sweatshirts, and it was sunny. It is NOT sunny here on SI now! Coming. Everything has been canceled in 2020, so you could have just canceled it.”
Another noted, “Welppp this isn’t live. We have 2 ft of snow here and that was a bright and sunny day lol.”
Staten Island Chuck says there will be an early spring in 2021. Staten Island Zoo
Ahead of the marquee event, the video also featured a previously recorded kid-friendly segment on the zoo’s other furry creatures, with workers donning short sleeves amid sunny skies.
A rep for the zoo didn’t immediately return an email. The zoo was closed Monday and Tuesday due to the snowstorm.
Chuck’s prediction this year is contrary to his rival Punxsutawney Phil, who found we’re fated for six more weeks of winter at the dueling an event that was, in fact, held live Tuesday.
Scandal has surrounded the Staten Island spectacle in past years.
In 2014, the portly prognosticator — later revealed to be a stand-in groundhog named Charlotte — died after being dropped by Mayor Bill de Blasio in front of a crowd.
And in 2009, Chuck chomped on Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s finger as Hizzoner tried to rouse him from his winter nap. The land beaver also predicted an early spring that year.