During a New York Magazine interview, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed remorse for his involvement in the 2014 incident where he dropped “Chuck, ” a well-known groundhog who tragically passed away a week later.
While he did attribute some responsibility to the handlers who handed him the animal, de Blasio admitted his regret for participating in the incident.
When asked by New York Magazine if he had any regrets about the groundhog incident at Staten Island Zoo’s Groundhog Day event, de Blasio responded affirmatively, stating, “Yes, without a doubt.”
Reflecting on the situation, he remarked, “I never wanted to handle a groundhog in the first place. I mean, seriously, what was I thinking?”
De Blasio attributed the groundhog incident to the early morning hour when his motor skills were not at their best.
He also revealed that he had not anticipated being handed the animal to hold, expressing his surprise at the situation.
Recalling the event, de Blasio explained, “I put on these gloves, and out of nowhere, they hand me a groundhog. I was like, ‘What on earth?’
Shouldn’t there have been some proper guidance or instruction?”
He considered the decision to have an elected official hold a groundhog foolish, as he lacked knowledge about handling such animals.
According to sources, officials at the Staten Island Zoo took extensive measures to conceal the death and maintain the secrecy surrounding the true identity of “Chuck,” a female imposter named “Charlotte.”
Although the groundhog appeared unharmed after the incident, it was subsequently found deceased in its enclosure a week later, on February 9, despite initial assessments of its good health.
Sources revealed that a necropsy later determined that the cause of death was “acute internal injuries,” consistent with a fall.
The unfortunate incident occurred when the mayor lost his grip during the Groundhog Day photo opportunity, causing the groundhog to plummet nearly 6 feet.
While the zoo informed a select few supporters in Staten Island about the incident, they publicly stated that the groundhog had passed away due to natural causes.
It is worth noting that the Staten Island Zoo receives a significant portion of its annual funding, amounting to approximately $3.5 million, from the New York City budget.