Posted on: Thursday - Feb 1, 2018

For over a hundred years, humans have turned to animals to predict the weather. Every year in early February, people would use hibernating bears or badgers to predict whether it would be an early spring or if six more weeks of winter were upon them. Today, we rely on groundhogs to give us intel on the weather and in Tennessee, we have our own Chief Seasonal Forecaster, Chattanooga Chuck.

In 2017, Chuck was named one of the “5 Groundhogs to Watch” by PARADE magazine and we’re glad to have his talents in Tennessee. Chuck is the first woodchuck that has called the Tennessee Aquarium home. He was acquired from a licensed wildlife breeder in Pennsylvania and has been with the Aquarium since 2010. Every year since then, Chuck, with the help of his team of animal forecasters, has made a weather prediction on the second day of February.

When Chuck isn’t busy making predictions, you can either find him hibernating or meeting guests. As groundhogs are true hibernators, Chuck spends most of the colder months, October through February or March, sleeping. In the warmer months, you can find Chuck interacting with guests in the Extraordinary Experiences program or running around rearranging the items in his two-story apartment. The Extraordinary Experiences program gives guests the opportunity to meet and interact with native species, like groundhogs, lemurs, alligators, otters and turtles.

Chuck’s closest caregiver, Susie Grant, has been with him since he first got to Tennessee at just six weeks old. After eight years, the two have grown extremely close and have a special bond. Susie knows Chuck’s routine and ensures that he is always happy and healthy.

While the groundhog is the only animal with its own holiday, there are dozens of creatures who are thought to have weather forecasting skills. The Tennessee Aquarium has its own Storm Team of creatures that have a history of predicting weather patterns. It is said that stingrays, sharks, catfish, trout and butterflies have the ability to predict atmospheric changes, while screech owls, parrots and frogs are thought to have the ability to foretell a storm. All of these creatures assist Chuck in making his prediction each February.

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if Chuck sees his shadow to determine if we’ll experience six more weeks of winter, or if it’ll be too cloudy and we’ll get an early spring.

For more on the Tennessee Aquarium and Chattanooga Chuck visit http://www.tnaqua.org.