PORTLAND Flying in the face of tradition, the Oregon Zoo paraded its newest African Pygmy Hedgehog at the zoo s annual Hedgehog Day celebration.

Mayzie (no word on what happened to last year s hedgehog Jabari) saw her shadow, which means six more weeks of winter for us who heed the word of the spiny creature.

The zoo insists the hedgehog was the original clairvoyant when it came to predicting the seasons, but after North American settlers found nary a hedgehog on the new land, the groundhog served as a passable stand in.

Mayzie is bringing the holiday back to its origins. Plus, we think she s cuter than Phil, said zoo director Kim Smith, who served as master of ceremonies at Sunday morning s Hedgehog Day festivities.

The zoo s Hedgehog Day hoopla proves tradition trumps pragmatism. According to the StormFax weather Almanac, Punxsutawney Phil has a better track record. He has correctly predicted the end of winter 39 percent of the time; that's compared with the zoo s hedgehogs that only get it right around a third of the time.

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