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Staten Island Chuck Won't Get Last Chance to Bite Mayor Bloomberg

By Nicholas Rizzi | February 1, 2013 7:28am | Updated on February 1, 2013 9:16pm

WEST BRIGHTON — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is steering clear of his last chance to come face-to-face with Staten Island Chuck.

The mayor does not plan to attend the annual Groundhog Day event at the Staten Island Zoo Saturday morning, in what would have been the last chance to mend his tumultuous relationship with the furry forecaster while still in office and presiding over the ceremony.

In 2009, Chuck chomped Bloomberg's finger as the mayor tried to coax him out of his winter nest.

Since then, the pair's relationship has been cool — though Staten Island Zoo director Ken Mitchell said he thought a final meeting would have gone by without incident.

“[The bite] was just a minor misunderstanding," he said.

"I’m sure that won't happen again.”

A Bloomberg spokesman did not reveal the mayor's reason for not attending the Groundhog Day event this year but said he has sometimes chosen not to attend in the past.

Groundhogs are generally not known for having sparkling personalities, but Mitchell said Chuck, who’s full name is Chuck E. Hogg, generally has a good temperament.

Bloomberg likely disagrees. In 2011, he refused to reach after the rodent, instead using a plunger to help get him out of his home.

"I love the plunger," Bloomberg said on the video, originally posted by the Daily News. "That was so much better than having to reach in and let the son of a b—ch bite you."

During last year’s prediction, the mayor even vowed to retaliate if Chuck took another bite at his finger.

"If I get bit again," the mayor said before picking up Chuck, "I have actually promised my girlfriend I would bite back."

Mitchell said the 8.5-pound groundhog has been in fierce preparation for his annual weather prediction.

“It’s a big day for Chuck,” Mitchell said. “He’s busy getting himself ready both physically and mentally.”

Chuck has spent his days maintaining a healthy diet of vegetables.

The hard work usually pays off.

In 31 years, Chuck has correctly predicted the arrival of spring 25 times, and boasts a higher success rate than his Pennsylvania rival, Punxsutawney Phil.

“He has an accuracy rating of about 80 percent, which is pretty good,” Mitchell said.

If Chuck sees his shadow after emerging from his home on Saturday, we can expect six more weeks of winter.

If he doesn’t, an early spring should be on his way.

Saturday’s prediction will be free and open to spectators. Gates open at 6:30 a.m., and Chuck should make his prediction at 7:30 a.m.

Guests can also have breakfast with Chuck afterwards. Admission is $10, $5 for children, and reservations are required. For more information and to make reservations call  718-442-3101, ext. 14.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said the mayor would be present at Saturday's Groundhog Day ceremony, but his public schedule subsequently revealed that he would not attend.