HOUMA, LA - While the rest of the nation looks to Punxsutawney Phil for weather predictions on Groundhog Day, Beignet the Nutria is the star of the show in South Louisiana.
And Beignet isn’t very interested in winter. His big concern is an entirely different season - hurricane season.
South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center Executive Director Jonathan Foret brought Beignet, a wild nutria he nursed to health as a baby and has raised like a family pet, out to see his shadow this morning.
February 2 isn’t only Groundhog Day, after all. It’s also World Wetlands Day.
Nutria are considered an invasive species, so Foret had to apply for a special permit from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in order to keep Beignet, who serves as a mascot and helps Foret educate students about invasive species.
So early on World Wetlands Day, Foret released Beignet to see if the nutria would see his shadow.
“If he doesn’t see his shadow, that means that we’re going to have a great hurricane season, meaning no hurricanes at all,” Foret said. “If he does see it, then that means we’re in for it.”
Luckily, Beignet didn’t see his shadow, thus predicting a mild hurricane season.
Punxsutawney Phil, however, predicted six more weeks of winter.