The grolar bear is a hybrid mix usually between a male grizzly bear and a female polar bear. Unlike other hybrids, such as the mule, grolar bears bred in captivity are fertile and can produce offspring. These hybrids have been known to exist in captivity for several years, but were considered ‘cryptids.’ Cryptids are animals that can breed in captivity but aren’t though to exist in the wild. Grolar bears resemble both species, but the fur is a light brownish color. However, the grolar bears characteristics and instincts resemble those of a polar bear (jumping on ice to break it) rather than characteristics associated with the grizzly bear. Several bears have been found throughout the years that resembled the grolar bear, but it wasn’t until April 2006 that DNA testing confirmed the presence of a wild-bred grolar bear. Female polar bears are very picky in their choosing of a mate, so the idea of a ‘chance encounter’ doesn’t hold much water, but there is another very interesting hypothesis on grolar bears.
Due to warming trends in the Northern Pole, more ice has begun melting which has led to a decrease in polar bear habitat. Like other bears, polar bears require a very large land area in order to survive. With the loss of their habitat, polar bears must move south and towards beach areas to survive. On the flip side, grizzly bears have begun moving further north as the warmer climate has allowed them to do so. Bjorn Lomberg had made the hypothesis that as polar bears lose their habitat, they will ‘evolve backwards,’ in order to adapt to the new climate.
Twenty to thirty thousand years ago polar bears diverged from brown bears to become a different species, and Lomberg believes that eventually the polar bear as we know it today will no longer exist, but will have mixed its DNA so much with grizzly bears that the polar bear species will be effectively extinct in the wild. As polar bears move south, they will continue to mate with grizzly bears, and the grolar bear offspring will be better adapted to the climate. If warming trends in the North continue, we could eventually see an extinction of the ‘true’ polar bear. The grolar bear will become increasingly more commonly seen as the grizzly and polar bear come in contact, and in essence the breeding population of the true polar bears would lessen until they were no more. However, polar bear DNA and characteristics could still live on in the grolar bear hybrid.