What’s black, furry, and four-legged that could give you the cuddle of a lifetime with the slightest touch of its paws?
A dog? No. It’s wilder than a dog.
A platypus? Could be, if it didn’t have that disturbing duck bill for a snout!
It’s the—are you ready?—THE BEARCAT!
The bearcat, or binturong in the vernacular, has officially dislodged the triceratops as my all-time favorite animal. It’s actually one of the highlights of my Palawan trip last week. There’s one at the DENR Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center in Puerto Princesa that you can have crawl over your arms and cuddle for only twenty pesos. Okay, it’s quite cruel—but you have to remember that it’s domesticated (bred and grown in the center) and it wasn’t just plucked out of the jungle to play jester to bored tourists! Its parents have probably long been displaced by graver, more inconsiderate human activities in the forests.
That’s why I’ve made it a resolve to fight all enemies of the dwindling bearcats, which are probably the gentlest, cutest, fluffiest—their paws feel like the softest leather!—creatures you’ll ever find in the country. They’re endemic to Southeast Asia, which means you’ll probably never see them caricatured and dancing in some flimsy Hollywood animation.
I now include them in my prayers every night, hoping that their numbers will again grow. I don’t mind waking up one day and finding the city overran by bearcats. Who knows, the president might then even declare a national bearcat emergency holiday! I’d volunteer to collect them and herd them back to the mountains. They’re so cute I wouldn’t ask for compensation. I would even do overtime!
The bearcat’s one more reason why you should speak up and make your stand against mining in Palawan! All the gold, silver, nickel, zinc, chromium, etc. in the world would never be able to bring back the bearcat if it went extinct.