New York City

Remembering Staten Island Chuck 10 years later

New York City marks an important anniversary since the groundhog’s tragic death.

Charlotte, who played Staten Island Chuck on a fateful day 10 years ago, is remembered after her tragic death.

Charlotte, who played Staten Island Chuck on a fateful day 10 years ago, is remembered after her tragic death. Shahar Azran/WireImage/Getty Images

Ten years ago, New York City lost one of its most treasured rodents. During a Groundhog Day celebration on Feb. 2, 2014, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to get a good grip on Charlotte, the groundhog chosen to play the role of Staten Island Chuck, who wriggled out of his grasp and tumbled headfirst to the ground. A week later, the seasonal oracle was found dead in her enclosure. The cause? “Acute internal injuries.”

To be fair, de Blasio was a mayor, not a zookeeper, and he was wearing unwieldy gloves to protect his hands after a previous Chuck bit then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The current Mayor Eric Adams, an avowed enemy of rodents, has skipped the Groundhog Day celebrations.

As we remember and honor Charlotte, who had the misfortune of being chosen to play Staten Island Chuck on that fateful day, here is a timeline of how her death has impacted New York City.

Feb. 2, 2009 – A groundhog bites Mayor Mike Bloomberg through his leather gloves as the mayor coaxed it out of his enclosure. The mayor said this really weird thing about that incident, according to The New York Times: “Given the heightened response against terrorism, and clearly in this case a terrorist rodent who could very well have been trained by al-Qaida in Afghanistan, I’m not at liberty to say any more than that.”

Feb. 3, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2014 – No one says, “Hmm, a groundhog bit the mayor, maybe this tradition isn’t such a good idea.”

Feb. 2, 2014 – Towering Mayor Bill de Blasio fails to hold on to Charlotte the groundhog as she wriggles out of his gloved hands, plunging to the ground headfirst.

Feb. 9, 2014 – Charlotte is found dead in her zoo habitat. The zoo staff keep the death – and her true identity – under wraps.

Sept. 25, 2014 – The New York Post breaks the story of Charlotte’s untimely death, prompting outrage. The zoo claims she was examined after the Groundhog Day fall, and her death was unrelated to the incident.

January 2015 – The Staten Island Zoo revises its Groundhog Day policy to prohibit anyone, mayors included, from handling the groundhogs, the Post reports

Feb. 2, 2015 – De Blasio watches through plexiglass as the new iteration of Staten Island Chuck predicts spring is on its way.

Feb. 2, 2016 – The mayor skips Groundhog Day on Staten Island. No mayor has ever returned.

June 14, 2023 – De Blasio breaks his long silence about the groundhog incident in an interview with New York magazine, saying he “100%” regrets it: “I go there and it’s 7 in the morning, which means my motor skills are not at their best. I put on these gloves, and they’re like, ‘Here’s a groundhog,’ I’m like, ‘What the fuck?’ I’m like, ‘Don’t you have a little more coaching to go with this or whatever?’ It was idiocy. Why would you want an elected official to hold a groundhog?”