Like a Liger: Bred for the very first time
What do you get when you cross a polar bear with a Panda? If Stephen Harper has his way, a unique symbol of harmony between China and Canada. The ‘Polanda’ bear, nicknamed the Harper-bear, has the potential to smooth out foreign relations with the Chinese, especially as they aim to scoop up more oil sands. China’s ambassador to Canada, Zhang Junsai says this is an opportunity to unite our countries, while at the same time creating a new, more versatile bear species. It’s not about destroying the environment, says the Prime Minister’s Office, it’s about preserving two amazing animals.
During Er Shun and Da Mao’s stay in Toronto, they will be privy to a host of expensive toys, exercise equipment, groomers, researchers, and veterinarians. They will be expected to earn their keep, though. Each bear has been match with a polar bear with similar traits and sexual compatibility.
Panda’s too frigid for polar bears?
“Panda bears are extremely selective when it comes to choosing a mate,” says panda expert, Prof. Kirby Bulsinki. “As an animal biologist, I’ve devoted my life to these cuddly little fellers. They’re not going to love being put in a pen with polar bears. I know the mechanics of mating them will work, but a lot of sex is psychological for pandas. Polar bears, on the other hand, will mate with anything with a heartbeat. Elephant seals, lost explorers, seals, whales, you name it. They may just over power the pandas. After all, there’s a fine line between mauling and mating. We just hope it is consensual.”
The symposium on inter-species breeding, hosted bi-annually at the University of Guelph, is divided on this issue. “We have no idea what this animal may be capable of,” says naturalist Stig Larson. “Polar bears are hunters, carnivores, swimmers, and travel long distances. Panda bears are cute, vegetarian, sedentary, and more like a big raccoon. They may turn out like Katy Perry – cute but dangerous. But there’s always a chance they’ll be like Frankenstein – well-meaning, but ugly and destructive.”
North Meets East
Harper notes that both species are in rapid decline, and from a pure survival standpoint, may benefit from more adaptable traits. The opposition recognize the environmental benefits, but say it’s not enough. “Harper isn’t planning to release them into the wild, he just wants them to boost his own popularity and whore out our oil,” says opposition leader, Thomas Mulcair It’s a slippery slope, though. First it’s the polanda bear, the next thing you know we’re using Chinese currency and dipping our pizza in soy sauce.”
“‘Cabbits’ – cats crossed with rabbits – have proven successful for Mexican-American relations, and I think the polanda bear will have similar results,” countered Harper. “We have a chance to expand trade, and form a strong bond. I’m doing what Nixon did, but I’m throwing in a feat of science, and one hell of a cute pair of animals. That just happened!”
Whether or not the polanda bear is a success, politics with Panda bears are rarely black and white.