Shortly before Groundhog Day, PETA took on the Punxsutawney groundhog club, heralding its call for groundhog (and more broadly, animal) rights via a blog post and press release. And PETA advocates went one step further to suggest that Punxsutawney Phil’s annual weather forecasting responsibilities be taken over by a robot.
PETA says it’s wrong that Phil is subjected to the bright lights and crowds related to the Feb. 2 tradition. Event organizers downplay those concerns and insist that Phil is beyond fine, living better than other groundhogs in his climate-controlled environment.
An extremely active conversation blossomed in comments to the blog post. And, even more significantly, major news outlets like NPR, the LA Times and the Christian Science Monitor picked up on the controversy. At this moment, 9:23 am on Groundhog Day, a Google search on “peta ‘punxsutawney phil’ ‘groundhog day'” generates 43,000 results! PETA rules.
Kudos to PETA communicators for realizing there are few days (any others?) when animals are scheduled to make the headlines and acted on it. In connecting Phil’s rights with a national event, they secured widespread mainstream and niche media coverage of animal rights issues at little or no cost. Phil’s in good hands!
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