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Chattanooga Chuck may not have the national name recognition of Punxsutawney Phil, but who you gonna call to peek outside here on Groundhog Day?

Phil is 600 miles to the north. Even Atlanta's General Lee is 120 miles away. When it's raining in Georgia or chilly in Philly, Chuck may be basking in a Scenic City swelter next week.

So Wednesday, the official forecaster of the Tennessee Aquarium will issue his annual prediction for the rest of the winter in Chattanooga. According to folklore, if he sees his shadow, he scurries back to the burrow for six more weeks of wintry weather.

Aquarium communications manager Thom Benson predicts Chuck's popularity will depend on how many people he disappoints with his forecast.

"He'll either need a thick coat of fur [to face the crowd] if he predicts more snow," Benson said. "Or he'll be carried out of the River Journey building on the shoulders of a cheering throng if he says it's going to be an early spring."

The cuddly critter will be featured in two up-close presentations in the River Journey auditorium that day.

"One program is scheduled at 11 a.m. for visiting school groups and stay-at-home moms who would like to get youngsters excited about science," Benson said. "The second program is scheduled for 4 p.m. as an after-school meet-and-greet session with Chattanooga Chuck."

Both presentations will teach more about groundhogs, their adaptations and the folklore associated with these mammals, also known as woodchucks.

Although Chuck gets all the glory early in the month, there are other creatures said to have weather predicting skills, Benson said. Throughout February, the aquarium will showcase Fintastic Folklore Forecasters, animals with feathers, fins, fur and scales fabled to have prognostication abilities.

"Sharks, parrots, cuttlefish, trout, frogs, owls and even tarantulas are among the species that have weather proverbs touting their predicting prowess," Benson said.

Daily keeper talks and animal encounter programs will offer insight into which sayings have scientific explanations.

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.


* What: Chattanooga Chuck's Groundhog Day forecast.

* When: 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday (open 10 a.m.-6 p.m.).

* Where: River Journey, Tennessee Aquarium, 1 Broad St.

* Admission: Free with aquarium entry ($24.95 adults, $14.95 children 3-12).

* Phone: 800-262-0695.

* Website:

* Note: Fintastic Folklore Forecasters programs continue daily in February.


Other February events at the Tennessee Aquarium include the following. Get complete details at

* Feb. 5: Girl Scout Day.

* Feb. 12: Breakfast With the Penguins.

* Feb. 13: Valentine Sunset Cruise aboard the River Gorge Explorer.

* Feb. 19: Cub Scout Day.


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