Groundhog Day this year won’t be like the others after the death of Winnipeg’s furry seasonal forecaster Winnipeg Willow.  

“We are in complete shock and sadness with tears coming down our face to announce the passing of Winnipeg Willow (Friday) evening,” staff at the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre wrote in a Facebook post.

The centre announced it has cancelled this year’s Groundhog Day event this year after the five-year-old groundhog died sometime on Friday.

“She was acting her normal self (Friday) morning and eating a carrot but came in this evening to find her gone,” staff wrote.

Willow came to the centre in 2010 after her mother was killed by a dog. The centre intended to release her back into the wild, but she broke her leg and after healing, had become too attached to the staff to survive on her own.

The centre incorporated her into their educational programs, taking her to visit schools around the province.

“She had her moments, especially around February 2nd where she could get a bit grumpy but otherwise loved to go out,” staff wrote. “Life expectancy of woodchucks range from 4 to 6 years, so we hoped she lived her full time and was loved every minute of her life.”

Last year, Willow predicted there would be an early spring. Based on her behaviour this year, staff said we are likely to have one again.