Here's the complete press release from Canadian Senator Nicole Eaton issued just a few days ago [Statment about the Polar Bear]. Her proposal has been widely publicized. Most people think it's a serious suggestion from the Conservative Government. I'll treat it in the spirit that it was intended.
October 27, 2011
Colleagues – to borrow a phrase from a popular 80’s TV show – Picture it – 19th Century Europe. The streets of every major European capital are bustling with fashionistas.
And what are they wearing? Well, what fashion conscious trend-setter would be seen in public without their fur hat. Fur hats were the fashion statement of the day. Canadian beavers bore the consequences.
At the start of the craze, there were an estimated six million beavers in Canada. By the mid 1900s, when fickle fashion trend-setters abandoned fur for silk, the Canadian beaver was close to extinction.
Since then the rodent has slowly recovered and today the population is well into the millions. Not everyone is happy. Many accuse the dentally defective rat of being a nuisance that wreaks havoc on farmlands, roads, lakes, streams, and tree plantations.
Nevertheless, the toothy tyrant received the highest honour ever bestowed on a rodent. On March 24, 1975, the beaver became an official emblem of Canada.
While I would never speak ill of our furry friend, I stand here today suggesting that perhaps it is time for change.
Yes colleagues, I believe that it is high time that the beaver step aside as a Canadian emblem, or at the least share the honour with the stately polar bear.
The polar bear is the world’s largest terrestrial carnivore and Canada’s most majestic and splendid mammal, holding reign over the Arctic for thousands of years. The polar bear has been and continues to be a powerful figure in the material, spiritual and cultural life of the Indigenous People of the Arctic.
And contrary to unsubstantiated accusations, Canada is a world leader in its exemplary system of polar bear management. Our approach features co-management involving aboriginal groups and government, and a strict system of quotas and tags.
The polar bear survives in the harshest climate and terrain in the world. Our polar bear has to find food in a remote, barren, frozen land and water; find shelter in the harshest of weather; and live alone in an inhospitable setting. The giant panda, on the other hand, spends its days blissfully munching on bamboo and dozing in the afternoon sun.
Now, while I am somewhat exaggerating and being a bit irreverent to the panda, you have to agree with me on one thing. The panda has an enviable image consultant who has turned the derelict diva into the heart-string-tugging darling of the world.
It’s time for our polar bear to give the panda – and our own glorified rodent – some serious competition. A country’s symbols are not constant and can change over time as long as they reflect the ethos of the people and the spirit of the nation.
The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness, and dignity is perfect for the part.
Please join me in promoting the polar bear as Canada’s symbol for the 21st century. Thank you.
Why would we want to have a tailless, colour-challenged, ursine as our official Canadian animal?
Polar bears are best known for hanging around garbage dumps and causing a nuisance.
Their political leanings are highly suspect since there are thousands of them living in Russia. Even worse, there are thousands living in the United States of America. Many of them live in Greenland, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. They're probably atheists.
They eat baby seals—that's gonna be good for Canada's image!
Not only that. There's good reason to believe that polar bears aren't even a separate species. [Wikipedia: Polar Bear].
The bear family, Ursidae, is believed to have split off from other carnivorans about 38 million years ago. The Ursinae subfamily originated approximately 4.2 million years ago. According to both fossil and DNA evidence, the polar bear diverged from the brown bear, Ursus arctos, roughly 150,000 years ago. The oldest known polar bear fossil is a 130,000 to 110,000-year-old jaw bone, found on Prince Charles Foreland in 2004. Fossils show that between ten to twenty thousand years ago, the polar bear's molar teeth changed significantly from those of the brown bear. Polar bears are thought to have diverged from a population of brown bears that became isolated during a period of glaciation in the Pleistocene.Most Canadians have seen beavers and some of us have even been guests in their lodges. They are very hospitable. They are environmentally friendly—they help keep the tree population under control.
More recent genetic studies have shown that some clades of brown bear are more closely related to polar bears than to other brown bears, meaning that the polar bear is not a true species according to some species concepts. Irish brown bears are particularly close to polar bears. In addition, polar bears can breed with brown bears to produce fertile grizzly–polar bear hybrids, indicating that they have only recently diverged and are genetically similar. However, because neither species can survive long in the other's ecological niche, and because they have different morphology, metabolism, social and feeding behaviors, and other phenotypic characteristics, the two bears are generally classified as separate species.
The evolution of the polar bear from the brown bear is an example of peripatric speciation, the process by which an ancestral species gives rise to a daughter species through the evolution of populations located at the margin of the ancestral species' range. The origin of the polar bear therefore rendered the ancestral brown bear a paraspecies, which is paraphyletic species that gave rise to one or more daughter species without itself becoming extinct.
When the polar bear was originally documented, two subspecies were identified: Ursus maritimus maritimus by Constantine J. Phipps in 1774, and Ursus maritimus marinus by Peter Simon Pallas in 1776. This distinction has since been invalidated.
Polar bears don't even have homes and, if they did, would you want to live with one? Who do you think they'd have for breakfast?
When is the last time you saw a polar bear in it's natural environment? Never, right? And what do polar bears do in a zoo? The kill their babies, that's what [Second polar bear cub dies at Toronto Zoo]. Beavers are vegans.
Let's put a stop to this insane idea right now. Polar bears are mean and ugly. Some other country can have them as their national symbol. We'll stick with our beaver.