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Groundhog bites N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg's hand

Charles G. Hogg attacked after the mayor had teased him with an ear of corn.

February 03, 2009|Bloomberg News

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg got more than a forecast of winter's end on Groundhog Day.

When Staten Island groundhog Charles G. Hogg stepped out of his hut-like cage in pursuit of his shadow Monday, he appeared to become so frustrated with Bloomberg's teasing him with corn on the cob that he bit the mayor's hand.

At a City Hall news conference later, the mayor quipped that "security concerns" forced him to place "a limit to what I can say."

The groundhog attacked him about 7:20 a.m., the mayor said. He faced no risk of rabies because the animal has lived in captivity since it was born two years ago at the Staten Island Zoo, mayoral Press Secretary Stu Loeser said.

Bloomberg described his furry assailant as a "terrorist rodent that might very well have been trained by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan." The mayor wore a bandage around his left index finger where Loeser said the groundhog had bit through the mayor's glove and drawn blood.

A video of the event shows the mayor teasing the mammal over an ear of corn, giving it a nibble and then yanking it away. Bloomberg also grabbed the animal with two hands and held him up to the cheering crowd as Charles G. Hogg struggled to get free. The video doesn't show the exact moment when the mayor got nipped.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

For the record, Charles G. Hogg didn't see his shadow, indicating an early spring.

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