A beloved tradition may have turned tragic: It turns out that the Staten Island Zoo groundhog that Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped on Groundhog Day died from "internal injuries" a week later. The Post declares, "then the coverup began."

Apparently, after the real Staten Island Chuck bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009, the zoo starting subbing out Chuck for his lady friend Charlotte. (Bloomberg started wearing the huge gloves in 2010). From the Post:

The zoo doesn’t make public that it has stand-in groundhogs to protect the “groundhog brand,” insiders said.

A zoo spokesman tried to downplay the mayor’s role in the critter’s death, saying the animal was examined and seemed fine. “It appears unlikely that the animal’s death is related to the events on Groundhog Day,” the spokesman said.

Charlotte was found dead in her pen on February 9, and the Post points out, "She had fallen nearly 6-feet when the mayor lost his grip during the Groundhog Day photo-op. Sources said her injuries were consistent with a fall."

When the Post informed the Mayor's office, spokesman Phil Walzak said, "We were unaware that Staten Island Chuck had passed but are sorry to hear of the loss."

The groundhog that de Blasio will meet in February is Chuck and Charlotte's daughter, Charlotte (Jr.).