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Staten Island Chuck's scandalous history

Staten Island Chuck predicted an early spring on Monday morning--the opposite of Punxsutawney Phil.

Punxsutawney Phil might be more famous, but New York's groundhog, Staten Island Chuck, has more scandals. Would we do it any differently in New York? Let's take a look back at Chuck's, um, problematic past.

Chuck bit Bloomberg.

Before Bill de Blasio ever handled a groundhog,
Photo Credit: YouTube / Staten Island Advance

Before Bill de Blasio ever handled a groundhog, no event defined Staten Island Chuck as much as when he bit then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.

Angry about being roused, Chuck bit Bloomberg's finger. In the years following, Bloomberg (and then de Blasio) wore heavy gloves to avoid being bit. But it's not like Bloomberg to forget something like this.

In 2011, he was caught on video by the Daily News saying "that was so much better than having to reach in and let the little son of a [expletive] bit you." Tell us how you really feel, Bloomberg!

Bloomberg ditched Groundhog Day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given his grudge against the groundhog,
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ben Gabbe

Perhaps unsurprisingly given his grudge against the groundhog, Bloomberg left then City Council speaker Christine Quinn to handle the 2013 ceremony, his last year in office.

Quinn said she had "a little conference" with the groundhog and asked him to "give the mayor a big apology."

Although questions swirled around why Quinn attended the ceremony instead of Bloomberg, Quinn tried to shrug it off, saying, "who cares? ... I think Chuck got a pretty good deal getting to be with me this morning. What more could he want than a cute redhead first thing in the morning?"

For the past few years, Chuck had a stand-in.

One of the most WTF parts of New
Photo Credit: Flickr / garrettziegler

One of the most WTF parts of New York's groundhog scandals is that the groundhog being used in the past few years was actually a female named Charlotte, not Chuck. Charlotte is actually the daughter of the original Staten Island Chuck, whose full name is Charles G. Hogg Sr., according to the zoo's website.

Charlotte also was the stand-in for her brother, Charles G. Hogg, who was allegedly benched because he bit Bloomberg in 2009. According to the Post, the zoo wanted to protect "the groundhog brand" by placing Charlotte in for her brother. As if she didn't have enough problems, being a stand-in for her brother probably didn't help.

Chuck's roommate was revealed to be a human.

In a 2009 Time interview, Staten Island Chuck's
Photo Credit: Flickr / lamivo

In a 2009 Time interview, Staten Island Chuck's keeper Doug Schwartz said the groundhog lives with him.

He said he started taking the groundhog home on the weekends, but once Chuck became an orphan, he came to live at his house. He also said he takes naps with the groundhog sometimes, although "that may be illegal in New York State."

On the zoo's website, the zoo says Schwartz took the groundhog home with him in advance of Groundhog Day, although the groundhog normally lives in the zoo's basement.

De Blasio dropped Chuck's daughter.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's first groundhog day on
Photo Credit: Staten Island Advance/Anthony DePrimo

Mayor Bill de Blasio's first groundhog day on Staten Island was a rough one. Charlotte, the female stand-in groundhog, squirmed out of his hands, falling nearly six feet to the ground. De Blasio tried to salvage the situation, joking that the groundhog was "doing his Marshawn Lynch impression," but unfortunately, it was no joking matter.

There was a sudden death in the family.

On Feb. 9, just one week after Groundhog
Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

On Feb. 9, just one week after Groundhog Day, Charlotte was found dead in her enclosure at the Staten Island zoo-- allegedly with "injuries consistent with a fall," according to a bombshell New York Post report. The zoo insisted the death was from natural causes. But what's more, the zoo allegedly told staff not to tell de Blasio's office about her death.

De Blasio will not handle Staten Island Chuck in 2015.

After the 2014 scandal, the Staten Island Zoo
Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

After the 2014 scandal, the Staten Island Zoo announced in January that de Blasio will not be allowed to handle another groundhog.

De Blasio, for his part, said he "welcome[d] a new approach." But the Friday ahead of Monday's ceremony, de Blasio's office still had not confirmed whether the mayor would appear. At an unrelated press conference on Friday, de Blasio said they would announce their schedule for early Monday closer to the day because "a lot of stuff is going on." Just like the unexcited man who won't firm up plans before a date, huh? De Blasio tried to joke about the situation, saying "we have a task force of emergency preparedness officials and health officials who are trying to figure out how to wrap me in platinum so that no harm will befall me or any groundhog in the vicinity of me." De Blasio finally confirmed he would attend on Monday morning, and he followed up. Early reports from the Staten Island Zoo showed that Chuck (or whatever imposter was there) predicted an early spring, the opposite of Punxsutawney Phil. De Blasio did attend, and all parties appeared in good health at the end of the ceremony.

Sarah Palin called out Bill de Blasio.

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin angered PETA when
Photo Credit: Sarah Palin's Facebook page

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin angered PETA when she posted a photo of her six-year-old son, Trig, stepping on his service dog. In a Facebook post, Palin wrote "may 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward" and included the photo of Trig stepping over the dog as proof. But not everyone though the post was funny, and soon Palin was striking back at PETA advocates.

In her response, Palin first knocked President Obama, telling PETA to "chill" and "at least Trig didn't eat the dog." But on the Today show, she took aim at NYC's mayor, saying that de Blasio "just, doggonit--he killed a groundhog when he dropped it last year on Groundhog Day."

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