PETA wants Punxsutawney Phil to retire from his annual gig predicting the weather in the U.S.

In an open letter sent to Tom Dunkel, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, the controversial animal rights group has requested the club replace the famed groundhog with a giant coin for the Groundhog Day holiday, which takes place on Feb. 2.

"He is not a meteorologist, and he deserves better than to be exploited every year for tourism money," PETA wrote.

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In 2022, PETA asked the club to consider using a persimmon tree to predict the weather instead of Phil.

"Phil’s an expert in burrowing, foraging, and living the life nature intended for him, not in meteorology," PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said at the time.

"PETA is hoping to help the groundhog club kick off a kinder Feb. 2 and let Phil (and his companion) go to a reputable sanctuary, where he can live without worry, without being picked up and whirled about, and engage in the natural behavior denied him in his Plexiglas enclosure," Newkirk continued.

Since 1887, both locals and tourists from far and wide have traveled to Punxsutawney, Pa., to watch furry little Phil emerge from his temporary home and either see his shadow, signaling six more weeks of winter, or nothing, signaling an early spring ahead.

Groundhog Day, a movie starring Bill Murray as a disgruntled weatherman stuck in a time loop, was released in 1993.

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Gallery Credit: Taylor Alexis Heady

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