PORTLAND – While many on the East Coast eagerly await the Feb. 2 predictions of one Punxsutawney Phil, Portland heeds the word of another curious creature: Jabari the African pygmy hedgehog.
At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, at the Oregon Zoo’s entry plaza, Jabari saw his shadow, which means six more dreary weeks of winter.
The 'Hedgehog Day' festivities were free and open to the public, and a zoo admission ticket was not required to access the main plaza.
So why a hedgehog instead of a ground hog? Other than Portland’s inclination to keep it weird, the hedgehog has taken the role in this centuries-old tradition to predict the onset of spring.
Immigrants to North America substituted the groundhog when they found there were no hedgehogs in their new homeland.
But, according to records from StormFax Weather Almanac, Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions have only been correct 39 percent of the time. Oregon Zoo hedgehogs have been marginally better with a 43 percent accuracy rate.