Sam predicts early spring

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SHUBENACADIE– A hush fell over more than 400 people as Shubenacadie Sam emerged from his burrow.

The famous groundhog sniffed around before giving his prediction of an early spring to the town crier.

“There was a loud cheer of rejoice as Sam’s prediction was announced,” said Theresa Adams, assistant education co-ordinator at the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park following the annual Groundhog Day prediction held yesterday at the park at 8 a.m.

According to folklore, the lack of a groundhog’s shadow on Feb. 2 means there will be an early spring.

“Everyone seemed to be quite positive and happy that Sam was saying there would be an early end to winter,” Adams added. “After the prediction, everyone was playing games, enjoying hot chocolate and interacting at the displays. Everyone is in a really good mood.”

After Sam made his prediction, he stuck around for photo opportunities with dignitaries that attended the event, including Olympic medalist rower Tracy Cameron and Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill.

“Sam came along the fences and sniffed around, but then had to go and Skype an interview with CBC Toronto,” said Adams. “Then he went to the Greenwing Legacy Interpretive Centre around 9 a.m. in his travel pen, so visitors could spend time and see him up close.”

Adams said Sam’s prediction last year was accurate and out of Sam and two other well-known groundhogs, he was the only one this year to predict an early spring.

Wiarton Willie in Ontario saw his shadow Sunday morning, as did Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania.

“Last year, Sam was the standalone in predictions and he was correct for this region,” Adams said.

Along with Groundhog Day, Sunday was also World Wetlands Day, which was celebrated at the Greenwing Legacy Interpretive Centre.

Hosted by Ducks Unlimited Canada, many activities and displays were geared toward the celebration.

“Ducks Unlimited Canada is excited to share World Wetlands Day and what it means with so many families,” said Jodie Hambrook, head of outreach programs for Atlantic Canada, in a news release. “It’s so important to be able to educate children about these vital ecosystems and how they benefit us all.”

Wetlands provide numerous benefits to animals, the environment and people. Along with providing habitat, wetlands also absorb and slowly release excess groundwater, which helps prevent flooding and drought. Wetlands also trap contaminants from groundwater, helping to keep drinking and recreational water clean and stable.

While there were more than 400 people on hand for Sam’s morning appearance, the wildlife park officials expected to see hundreds more for the rest of the day. The animal portion of the park was open until 3 p.m., with admission being free. Donations were accepted for the Shumilack Food Bank.

Geographic location: Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park

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