‘Pizza groundhog’ enjoys a slice outside home under coronavirus lockdown

Nature is healing — or at least, nature is having a good time with humans stuck indoors due to the coronavirus.

A cheeky groundhog has casually seized viral fame after it was caught on video eating pizza — reportedly for an hour — outside a locked-down home in Philadelphia, Pa., on Tuesday.

Homeowner Kristin Chalela Bagnell and her dogs watched incredulously as the rodent munched on a slice outside her sliding glass door while staring right back at its audience, as though daring them to come outside.

Bagnell captured the video and shared it on a local news station’s Facebook page, where it has since gone viral.

In the 84-second video, one of Bagnell’s dogs runs over to the sliding doors in her kitchen to watch the groundhog eating right in front of it. Bagnell approaches with her camera phone, but the groundhog doesn’t seem to care — it just keeps chewing away at the pizza with its big groundhog teeth while clutching the slice in its long-clawed paws.

The bold little rodent pauses briefly when a second dog goes to the window. Then it keeps eating.

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Bagnell says she didn’t even get to try a piece of the pizza herself.

“Before I recorded, we noticed that pizza was out in our backyard and we didn’t know where it came from,” she told CNN. “Then both of the dogs were very intently looking out the glass.”

She said she’s seen the groundhog around the neighbourhood before but she’s never seen it mowing down on some ‘za.

Bagnell suspects the pizza may have landed in her yard thanks to a petty neighbour, she told the Philly Voice newspaper.

“With Philly being Philly, we have been noticing every once in a while random, half-eaten foods thrown in our backyard,” she told the paper. “We’re not sure if it’s our neighbour who we’re in the middle of a parking war with or we’re just stuck with bad luck.”

The incident has sparked many comparisons to “pizza rat,” the rodent that was infamously spotted hauling a slice down a set of stairs in a New York City subway station in 2015.

Pizza groundhog also appears to have surpassed other Philadelphia mascots such as Gritty and Punxsatawney Phil, the Pennsylvania rodent used for Groundhog Day each year.

“Pizza groundhog is our god now,” one user tweeted.

Several people echoed the now-cliched response to every animal story during the COVID-19 threat: “Nature is healing.”

Others found a way to adapt Groundhog Day for the coronavirus era.

“Six more weeks of home delivery!” one person said.

Some were more pessimistic.

“If the groundhog eats the pizza, it’s six more weeks of lockdown,” one user said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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