Science and TechAnimals and Insects


Punxsutawney Phil's handlers reveal the weather-themed names of his twin babies

The famous groundhog and his wife had twins in March, and the public played a role in deciding their names.
Groundhog Club handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil.
Posted at 5:26 PM, May 13, 2024

Every spring, Punxsutawney Phil looks for his shadow to predict if sunny days are on the horizon. But this year those words have a bit more meaning beyond his annual weather forecast.

Each Feb. 2, or Groundhog Day, Phil is tasked with coming out of his burrow to predict the rest of winter's weather. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of cold, and if he doesn't there will be an early spring. This year, the famous marmot didn't see his shadow.

But as it turns out, the royal groundhog will be looking out for Shadow and Sunny beyond just the once-a-year event — because those are the names of his offspring.

Phil's caretakers from the Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Club Inner Circle revealed the twin kits' names on Mother's Day, fittingly. The moment was captured on video and posted to Phil's Facebook page.

"Born to royalty, a boy and a girl, names have been chosen to share with the world. Welcome with us as we say hello to little girl, Sunny, and a boy, Shadow. With pride and joy as the kids play, from Punxsutawney, happy Mother's Day!" Dan McGinley, the club's vice president, said while reading from a scroll.

The babies were born to Phil and his wife, Phyllis, in March, and on April 30, the Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Club opened name suggestion boxes to the public so they could be involved in the first family of groundhogs' naming process.

Hundreds of submissions later, the boxes closed on Friday. And after a one-on-one between the club's president, Tom Dunkel, and Phil, the decision officially landed on Shadow and Sunny.

The family lives in a climate-controlled burrow at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Because of the controlled environment, the animals don't have to go into full hibernation as other groundhogs do. They also don't have to search for food, as club members provide it for them.

That's actually how the babies were discovered, when a club member went to feed the parents. It was the first time in Phil's 138-year history that such a siring had happened, and before it, the Inner Circle assumed the groundhogs didn't breed in captivity.