MARLTON, N.J. (WTXF) - An iconic South Philly baker became a surrogate dad to orphaned groundhogs, but he's hoping a wildlife expert who sees the footage will help him corral the critters and get them to safety.
Louis Sarcone, Jr. was working at his South Philadelphia bakery Saturday afternoon when he got a frantic phone call from his girlfriend Katie.
"She says, 'When you get home, you're not going to believe this!' I said, 'What?' She says, 'The dog was going nuts in the backyard barking at something so I ran out to see what he was barking at.'"
The answer? A ridiculously cute family of apparently orphaned baby groundhogs emerging from beneath the shed behind their Marlton home.
The furry little critters, each barely six inches long, waddled around the shed as Katie urged them to get back to the safety of the hole underneath.
Sarcone raced home and immediately bonded with one of the orphans. Everywhere he went, the baby groundhog was hot on his heels, following inches behind as Sarcone slowly zig-zagged around the backyard.
A foul smell coming from beneath the shed suggested mom had died, so this South Philly baker became a surrogate parent.
"Wherever I went in my backyard, that little sucker followed me around," said Sarcone, Jr. to FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "Like I was his dad!"
That video posted to the Sarcone's bakery Twitter page had been viewed more than 35,500 times by Tuesday afternoon.
According to Sarcone, a wildlife expert has confirmed the babies are old enough to feed without their mother. "Therefore, aside from the bad weather keeping them hidden, they should appear once again." Sarcone tweeted. "We have left veggies and fruits in their path."
As a part of a century-old bakery now in its fifth generation of family ownership, Sarcone, Jr. knows all about the importance of fathers and sons.
But he never thought he play adoptive dad do a gaggle of groundhogs.
"It was an unbelievable thing," he said. "I felt like I turned into Dr. Doolittle!"