WEST ORANGE, NJ - Groundhog Day and Super Bowl Sunday collided at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange on Feb. 2 as Essex Ed saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter, and also called a Seattle Seahawks victory in the Super Bowl.
Tradition has it that if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its home on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow and retreat back into its home, and there will be six more weeks of winter.
Turtle Back Zoo Director Brint Spencer had the honor of reading the proclamation from Essex Ed, who indeed saw his shadow and duly predicted, "As the snow flies, so will the Seahawks to victory."
The other animals at the zoo were given the opportunity to make their predictions, and they were split pretty equally, but Essex Ed's proclamation stood firm.
Earlier in the day, another famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil (hailing from Punxsutawney, Pa.) also saw his shadow, adding to the pool of winter-predicting rodents.
The Sea Lion House played host to families and friends gathered to meet Essex Ed, the Zoo's resident groundhog. The zoo staff taught the children about groundhogs and slowly introduced their mascot. Normally this species would be hibernating at this time of the year, but Essex Ed is a special groundhog who lives inside and does not go into full hibernation. Groundhogs are the largest mammals to hibernate and the largest member of the squirrel family. He was eating sweet potatoes, banana and treats, and was enticed to do tricks for the crowd.