In a CNN-spotted letter addressed to Punxsutawney Groundhog Club president Bill Deeley, PETA (i.e. People for the Ethical Treatment of Anmals) boss Ingrid Newkirk said Phil's retirement was "long overdue." Newkirk gave examples of why this is so, including the inevitable evolution of traditions and the ease with which the annual Phil festivities could be completed by way of "technologically advanced electromechanical devices" including animatronic alternatives.
"We even have the technology to create an animatronic groundhog with artificial intelligence (AI) that could actually predict the weather," Newkirk said. "An AI Phil would renew interest in Punxsutawney, generating a great deal of buzz, much like Sony's robot dog 'aibo,' which walks, plays, misbehaves, and responds to commands. By creating an AI Phil, you could keep Punxsutawney at the center of Groundhog Day but in a much more progressive way."
The letter goes on to note that young people care very little for this tradition anyhow, with Newkirk arguing that taking this approach could save the future of the holiday tradition. As for what to do with Phil and the other Punxsutawney groundhog, PETA has proposed moving them to a sanctuary.
At any rate, Groundhog Day 2020 goes down this Sunday.