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Velda says we're in for an early spring

COURTESY OF THE OREGON ZOO/KATHY STREET - Oregon Zoo curator Michael Illig shows Velda, an African pygmy hedgehog, to visitors during the zoo's annual Hedgehog Day festivities. Velda did not see her shadow this morning, indicating an early spring may be in store.Get ready for an early spring.

Velda, the Oregon Zoo’s weather-predicting hedgehog, didn't see her shadow Tuesday morning, Feb. 2, meaning the Northwest’s winter weather could soon be wrapping up.

Oh, yeah, Punxsutawney Phil, the dean of weather-predicting rodents, also didn't see his shadow Tuesday, so there’s a good chance they both might be right.

“Hedgehogs are the real weather experts of the animal world,” said zoo Curator Michael Illig, who supervised the zoo’s Hedgehog Day festivities. “Punxsutawney Phil and his ilk are relative newcomers to the game. When European immigrants to the United States realized their new home didn’t have hedgehogs, they turned to the groundhog out of necessity. But Velda is bringing the holiday back to its origins.”

Considering the track record of the zoo’s hedgehog prognosticators though, tradition — and cuteness — might have to count for a lot. “Last year though, our hedgehog Whiskers J. did predict an early spring, which was definitely accurate for this region,” Illig said. “We had the warmest winter on record.”

Velda is one of five hedgehogs born at the zoo in 2014. She made her forecasting debut on Tuesday.