Groundhog bites NYC mayor

February 3, 2009 5:34:09 AM PST
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has battled union leaders, politicians and other tough characters during his two terms in office - but it took a groundhog to actually draw blood.

The city's prognosticating rodent, Charles G. Hogg, also known as Staten Island Chuck, bit through Bloomberg's glove and chomped on his left index finger when the mayor was trying to coax the animal into view with an ear of corn.

"It nicked his hand," said Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser.

The mayor, who is left-handed, used a napkin to wrap the cut until he could check with his doctor about further treatment. He was told there was no risk of rabies because the 2-year-old animal was born and raised in captivity and has had no interaction with other animals.

Both the groundhog and the mayor were able to collect themselves and participate in the annual ritual at the Staten Island Zoo. Chuck did not see his shadow - unlike his more famous counterpart in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil, who did.

Legend has it that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, spring will come early.

Bloomberg said Chuck had better be right. "If Chuck embarrasses us, this is going to be a very long winter for the Staten Island Zoo," he said.

Bloomberg joked at another event later that city residents should rest assured that their mayor is "willing to put himself and his physical well-being in harm's way to protect them" against what might have been "a terrorist rodent."

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