A groundhog dropped by New York mayor Bill de Blasio at this year's Staten Island Zoo Groundhog Day ceremony died a week later from its injuries, according to reports.
The groundhog, named Charlotte, was handed over to de Blasio by a zookeeper, but managed to wiggle from his grasp and plummet to the floor.
Charlotte was immediately retrieved and cuddled by her keeper, appearing to be absolutely fine, if a little stunned.
The groundhog was given a thorough medical examination after the incident and did not appear to be unwell. The animal then went on to participate in several events that week without any problems.
However, Charlotte was found dead in her enclosure on the morning of 9 February and, after an examination, was concluded to have died from internal injuries, possibly caused by the fall.
Rumours of a conspiracy have begun to circulate on the internet, as Charlotte was in fact masquerading as the famous Staten Island Chuck, New York City's official groundhog meteorologist.
As the average lifespan of a groundhog is only eight years, the zoo has four to choose from, all with names resembling Chuck.
"It's usually whichever groundhog is the least grouchy that day," zoo spokesman Brian Morris said in an interview on Thursday. "This is a time of year when genetics tell them to be hibernating. They can be in a bad mood."
The zoo has also been accused of trying to cover up Charlotte's death, as it has only been revealed seven months after the incident.
The zoo had only told a few people of the death, claiming the animal had died of natural causes.
"I was told he died of old age, that he went to that big farm in the sky," assemblyman Matthew Titone told The New York Post after he learned how 'Chuck' really died.
Groundhogs have been used to predict the weather since the tradition began in central Pennsylvania during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Groundhog Day is celebrated on 2 February every year. Tradition states that if the groundhog emerges from its burrow and it is cloudy, there will be an early spring. However, if it is sunny when it emerges, there will be six more weeks of winter.
Charlotte had just predicted six more weeks of winter.