This is the rodent that is fed arugula in air-conditioned comfort, safe from hounds like me.
And then what? Phil will be released into the wild? Fat, skill-free, and still in possession of a brain the size of a pea? Pampered Phil would be roadkill in a matter of days. That is if he didn't get his head bashed in by some freaked out citizens as Phil tried to run up their pants legs for a salad handout at a backyard BBQ.
Besides, Punxsutawney Phil is an ambassador for an otherwise completely under-appreciated family of rodents. His annual Groundhog Day moment is a very important job. Quite simply, it causes people to LIKE Punxsutawney Phil. He makes them think all groundhogs are cute. And people are much less likely to poison or run over with their lawnmowers animals that they think are cute. Phil is the Lassie of the rodent world-- except the only skill Phil need possess is the ability to make a shadow-- or not.
Let me be clear, I am all for humane treatment of animals. But a robot Phil is the silliest idea PETA has had in awhile -- and that is saying something. A animatronic groundhog? Animatronics just plain creepy. And they not are not eco-friendly. Phil, on the other hand, makes compost - in life and in death.
Has anyone even asked Phil? No one wants to be replaced by mechanization. As far I as I know, there is no groundhog union, but if there was I am sure they would have something to say about it.