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Punxsutawney Phil’s babies are named Shadow and Sunny. Just don’t call them the heirs apparent

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PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — Punxsutawney Phil’s offspring now have names that just might help the famed weather-forecasting groundhog to predict when spring will begin.

Phil’s human handlers chose Mother’s Day to announce that the two kits born this spring to Phil and his partner, Phyllis, are named Sunny and Shadow. Sunny is a female, Shadow a male.

Each spring, Phil makes a prediction about the length of the remaining winter. According to tradition, if he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of cold. This year, Phil did not see his shadow and therefore predicted an early spring.

“These kits of his are not replacements, they’re not the heir apparent,” Dan McGinley, vice president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle, said in a phone interview Monday. “Sunny and Shadow will not be part of the ceremony — it’s still Phil’s job. There’s still only one Punxsutawney Phil.”

The club received hundreds of suggestions for the pups’ names. The final decision emerged after a one-on-one between Phil and the club’s president, Tom Dunkel.

“Today the first family of groundhogs has grown, Punxsutawney Phil and wife Phyllis have two kits of their own,” McGinley read from a scroll announcing the names of the pups “born to royalty” in a video posted on social media on Sunday.

The babies were discovered in March by a club member who was feeding fruit and vegetables to Phil and Phyllis. The groundhog family lives in a climate-controlled burrow at the local library.

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