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Charlie, the groundhog, dies after eye surgery

INDIANAPOLIS -- Charlie, the Indianapolis Zoo's baby groundhog, only got to appear on one Groundhog Day. He died of complications following surgery to remove cataracts that clouded his vision.

Charlie, who at the age of 17 months was the official weather groundhog for Indianapolis, died Friday of respiratory problems caused by the anesthetic used during surgery at Methodist Hospital, zoo Director Roy Shea said.

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'Charlie gained some fame during his short stay here,' Shea said. 'Unfortunately, with any kind of surgery, there are some elements of risk.'

It was the second time the popular groundhog had undergone cataract surgery to strengthen his eyesight.

After successful surgery was performed on Charlie's left eye in October, a second operation was scheduled last week for his right eye.

Zoo officials said doctors and veterinarians worried they had not used the right anesthetic to ease the pain of surgery the first time, so they used a different anesthetic the second time.

The drug caused a reaction in Charlie's respiratory system that ended his life.

Charlie had only one opportunity to forecast the weather, but he may have pleased many state residents. He did not see his shadow, meaning the rest of winter would be short and mild.

Zoo officials said they will choose a new groundhog from the group of woodchucks brought to the zoo each year.

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