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Russian Officials Assess Proposal to Populate Siberia With 'Resurrected' Woolly Mammoths

© Wikipedia / Mauricio AntónWoolly mammoth
Woolly mammoth  - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.09.2021
Scientists say woolly mammoths went extinct some 4,000 years ago, with researchers citing climatic changes and overhunting as the key reasons for the animals’ disappearance.
Officials in Russia’s Republic of Sakha, located in Siberia, have assessed a proposal by a US company to populate the region with "resurrected" woolly mammoths. According to Nikita Zimov, head of Pleistocene Park, which aims to restore grazing ecosystems in the Arctic as well as mitigate the effects of climate change, the park is ready to accept the animals.

"We need to improve the park’s infrastructure, build roofed facilities, prepare fodder as well as to train veterinarians. This will take between five to seven years. If a calf appears during this period we are not going to let it roam the park unsupervised. We believe the main goal is to create a small population of mammoths", Zimov said.

The statement comes several days after a US startup, Colossal Biosciences, unveiled plans to "resurrect" a woolly mammoth. According to the firm, it plans to create an "elephant-mammoth hybrid" using gene-editing technology. Colossal Biosciences said it would insert the DNA of a woolly mammoth that was recovered from bones, tusks, and other well-preserved parts of an animal, into the genome of an Asian elephant. It then plans to populate Siberia with the "resurrected" creatures.

According to the company’s CEO, Ben Lamm, the project’s goal is not only to bring extinct animals back to life, but also to "rebuild ecosystems, heal our Earth and preserve its future".

"In addition to bringing back ancient extinct species like the woolly mammoth, we will be able to leverage our technologies to help preserve critically endangered species", Lamm said.

Colossal Biosciences claims it has already raised $15 million for the project. Although some scientists found the endeavour exciting, others criticised it, noting that the money should be spent on animals currently facing extinction.

"It's a ridiculous waste of money to try and reconstruct the genome of an extinct animal or plant and attempt to bring it back to life when other species are slipping through our fingers almost on a daily basis", said Jeremy Austin, an evolutionary biologist at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide.
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