Punxsutawney Phil will hit the road soon in PA with 'Phil's Epic Transit Authority.' PETA objects
Punxsutawney Phil is hitting the road. Jefferson County tourism money and state funds are going toward a bus to take Phil around Pennsylvania.
“Punxsy Phil has a brand new ride: the ‘Philmobile.’ He’s gonna go all over the state and all over this country to a town near you,” Senator Joe Pittman said on his Facebook page after Phil declared an early spring.
The Philmobile bus is part of what Pittman calls “PETA,” or “Phil’s Epic Transit Authority.”
The announcement was partially in response to complaints about the groundhog’s treatment from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the better-known PETA. The group offered a giant gold coin this year to replace Phil with a coin flip. Pittman says the idea is “silly” and that Phil is well cared for.
“It's a contradiction. You can't claim that Phil's gonna be well cared for and then at the same time bus him all over the place for public events. That just denies him for his whole life what's most important and natural to him for these tourist gimmicks," said Alex Baldwin, who is the Captive Wildlife Research and Content Specialist for PETA.
Baldwin said PETA’s offer to replace Phil with a giant gold coin or a human in a costume is still on the table.
“We sincerely hope this is a joke," Baldwin said. "Because if Pittman’s serious, then we're worried about why he would want to spend taxpayer money on an initiative that fuels this kind of exploitation. I mean, PETA can take a joke as well as anyone, but this is nothing to laugh about.”
Lawmakers haven’t shared any more details on when the Philmobile will hit the road. But they presented Punxsutawney Phil’s “Inner Circle” of Groundhog Day organizers with a giant check for the bus.
Rep. Brian Smith worked with Sen. Pittman to get funding for “Phil’s Epic Transit Authority.” Smith said the bus will promote tourism in the state.