A hog house divided
Who needs Groundhog Day when the Houston Zoo has guinea hogs?
Never fear, Houstonians. Just because we've got some blustery, East Coast-like weather this week doesn't mean we have to do everything the East Coast does.
So when Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney plumper didn't see his shadow, sure, we could rejoice along with the rest of the country that the end of winter is nigh.
But then again, that wouldn't be quite the way we do things in Texas, would it?
Groundhog Day at the Houston Zoo was Guinea Hog Day — not to be confused with the diminuitive, domestic guinea pig, ahem. Penelope and Olivia, nine-month-old guinea hog sisters and the newest residents of the John P. McGovern Children's Zoo, made their winter weather predictions on Wednesday afternoon — by choosing between a blue ball, representing a continuation of the bleak forecast, or a beach ball, signifying the earlier onset of spring.
Thinner-coated Penelope emerged from the prairie cave and entered the arena first.
"Penelope has a mission — she's a taskmaster," said Amy Lavergne, senior keeper at the Children's Zoo.
We're relieved to report that focused Penelope chose the beach ball, indicating spring's imminence.
After corralling Penelope to the side of the ring, her woolly sister Olivia stepped out to make her weather prediction — and promptly chose the blue ball, signaling that winter is sticking around for another few weeks.
Oh boy. It's a draw!
But how did the hog-wild girls know what to do in the first place? Practice makes perfect, and the large ladies worked diligently on their process of selection.
"We held four practice sessions in total," said Lavergne. "We actually used different balls than the ones used in today's exercise, so there was no previous bias."
We can only imagine the conversation around the trough tonight at dinner. It looks like the guinea hog home is a house divided.
"Well, one of them is bound to be right," said Lavergne.
The woman does have a point there.
And we have to choose a hog, too. So even though it wouldn't be the most original sentiment after Phil's shadowless appearance, we're rolling the dice, and going with Penelope's positive prediction.