It was pretty clear we didn’t need to consult a groundhog. I could simply look out my front windows. Still, I wanted to hear it from a leading authority. Neither freezing rain, nor icy roads nor school closures would keep me from getting the word from Essex County’s most reliable source. Maybe, just maybe, Ed could provide some hope in this endless, arctic winter.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo welcomed those eager to know our fate this morning at the Turtle Back Zoo, and then he put the pressure on Ed.
“I know we are finally going to get some good news,” DiVincenzo said.
But Ed wouldn’t be swayed. He said what was in his heart. Actually he whispered what was in his heart to Zoo Director Dr. Jeremy Goodman, and Goodman translated for the audience. After conferring with the rodent about what he saw this morning when he first awoke, Goodman asked, “You’re 100% sure?” Ed indicated he was, and Goodman announced, “Spring is in our heart, but winter is here to stay for six more weeks.”
Although Essex Ed’s prediction differs from celebrity groundhogs in New York and Pennsylvania, Ed has a pretty good track record.
“Essex Ed is a groundhog of truth and a groundhog of accuracy,” Goodman said, pointing out Ed’s been correct seven out of the past eight years.
In fact, Ed is so skilled at making predictions he will be tweeting his thoughts on everything from the Super Bowl to Award Shows throughout the month.
The zoo has been hosting the Groundhog’s Day event for the past 25 years with Ed participating for nearly his entire life. Ed came to the zoo as an injured animal nine years ago when he was just one month old.
“Someone found him on the road,” Zoo Supervisor Gina Zullo said. “His eyes were still closed.”
The zoo’s staff nursed him back to health, which included a surgery, and they grew so attached they asked the state to let the zoo keep him. Although groundhogs only live for two to three years in the wild, Ed has lived to the ripe old age of nine.
“In captivity groundhogs can live up to 10 or 11 years old,” Zullo said, adding that Ed may live even longer. “We take such good care of him who knows?”
You can see Ed and all the other animals at the zoo throughout the winter as the zoo is open year round. In fact, according to Goodman many of the animals such as the wolves, bison, and the red panda are more active at this time of year.
“Winter is a great time to come to the zoo,” said Goodman. “The animals enjoy seeing people this time of year.”
(Photo: Lily Dastis)