Meerkat stands guard over shadows for Groundhog Day

Asante the Meerkat is letting the groundhog sleep in this year and is taking over shadow-spotting duties for himself. / Chehaw Parks

Chehaw is taking a new approach for predicting how long winter lasts for Groundhog Day.

Instead of a groundhog, Asante the meerkat took over the duties Thursday morning at 9:30 AM.

Zookeepers released Asante and his fellow meerkats to find their shadows. Asante reached his sentry point without seeing his shadow, which means we can expect an early spring.

This is Asante's second year predicting spring's arrival. Sheldon the tortoise was the prognosticator for the seven years before.

Kevin Hils, Zoo Director, says animals are good predictors of weather because they depend so much on the environment for survival.