Quebec City's bizarre birthday gift from France to get makeover

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2007 | 7:16 PM ET


MONTREAL (CP) - It's back to the drawing board for the "Vachibou," an imaginary animal that's part cow and part caribou.
The design for the creature, which could serve as a mascot during Quebec City's 400th birthday celebrations, will be revised after an early sketch was deemed biologically inaccurate.
France offered Quebec City the tongue-in-cheek hybrid creation, which looks like a dairy cow with large antlers, as an emblem for joint festivities that will take place in the provincial capital and the European country.
The Vachibou could be more stylish, a bit bigger, more cartoonish or something else, said Frederic Paruta, a spokesman with the French consulate in Montreal.
"It's a work in progress," he said. "If the Vachibou survives, it will be used for the most festive part of the events."
When French officials presented Vachibou on Tuesday, questions were raised about its anatomy because the drawing's thick antlers resemble those of a moose and not a caribou.
The Vachibou's unveiling caught the Quebec government off guard.
"I won't say that we weren't surprised a bit," said Valerie Langlois, a spokeswoman for Quebec's International Affairs Department. "It's a nice gesture but there's room for improvement."
Officials returned home with suggestions from their Quebec counterparts and indicated they will work on the project, said Paruta.
He said the hybrid is a cross between a cow from Normandy, where most of New France's early immigrants originated, and a caribou from Quebec.
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the former French prime minister and president of the committee responsible for the celebration, coined the name Vachibou.
"The Vachibou is a mythical animal, which demonstrates that together - the French and the Quebecois - our imagination is limitless," Raffarin said in a statement.
More than 150 events are expected to take place in France to celebrate Quebec City's anniversary, Langlois said.
She added that church bells across France are expected to chime simultaneously to coincide with next year's St-Jean-Baptiste Day festivities on June 24.