Woolly Mammoths Could Soon Roam a Jurassic Park-Style Attraction in Russia

Illustration of Ice Age fauna: Image: Mauricio Antón

Russia intends to open a “Jurassic Park-style” cloning facility to resurrect ancient creatures like the woolly mammoth by 2020.

The $5.9 million “mammoth center” will be based at Northern-Eastern Federal University (NEF), an institution in Russia’s northeast region. The university, based in Yakutsk, has already located DNA from animals that were preserved in the region’s permafrost for tens of thousands of years — and if all goes according to plan, Ice Age animals could soon roam the grounds once again.

Plans for the project were presented in late 2018 at the annual Eastern Economic Forum in Russia, according to NEF.

Woolly rhinoceros. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists say that the proposed laboratory’s main goals will be to study extinct animals from living cells — and to bring back long-gone animals like the woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, cave lion, and extinct breeds of horse. Russian scientists are already working alongside experts from South Korea to get a variety of projects off the ground.

Evidently, there is already talk of a collaboration between the center and Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church, who is working on a project to insert woolly mammoth genes into an Asian elephant embryo. If the hybrid is successful, the species will be allowed to roam free in Siberia’s Pleistocene Park, where attempts are being made to recreate the habitat of ancient northeastern Russia.

In addition to bringing back ancient beasts, the center will also conduct studies on Northern ethnic groups and rare genetic diseases.