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Winnipeg Willow Dies Just Days Before Groundhog Day 2016

Winnipeg Willow made many friends through visits to schools.

A beloved Winnipeg woodchuck has died just days before her annual Groundhog Day weather prediction.

Winnipeg Willow passed away on Friday, according to the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre via Facebook.

Willow was brought to the centre almost six years ago after her mother was killed by a dog. She was supposed to be released back into the wild, but she broke her leg. She became too friendly towards humans during her recovery, so she was adopted by the facility's educational program.

Winnipeg Willow died last week. (Photo: Facebook/Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

The animal made many friends through visits to schools.

"We miss you already Willow and have fun running through the meadows," wrote the centre's founder.

Woodchucks, which are also known as groundhogs, have a life expectancy of four to six years.

The centre announced it would be cancelling its annual Groundhog Day celebration, but predicted an early spring because Willow was eager to go outside all winter.

The province's other Groundhog Day weather forecaster, Manitoba Merv, may have to take full responsibility for this year's Feb. 2 predictions.

Manitoba Merv didn't see his shadow this morning. Spring should be on its way sooner rather then later!

Posted by Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre on Monday, February 2, 2015

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