The Mission to Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth


Two things you might not
know about these adorable little puppies. They’re $100,000 each,
and they’re clones. And maybe in a few years,
these two things in my hands might be baby
wooly mammoths. Welcome to the future. South Korea is one of the
fastest growing economies in the world. It’s also the global
epicenter for cloning technology. Here, scientists have
perfected a Doctor Moreau method for cloning
several species, including dogs. And one of their biggest
goals? Bringing back the
prehistoric woolly mammoth from the flesh of
perfectly preserved specimens buried in
northern Siberia. At the same time, tusk hunting Siberians
looking for mammoth ivory support the
Korean cloning project by discovering frozen
mammoths in the quickly melting permafrost of the
far north. This bizarre supply chain
inspired us to travel to Seoul, Yakutsk and Moscow
to learn about humanity’s quest to both profit
from, and resurrect the legendary
wooly mammoth. To start off our journey
we hopped on a flight to Seoul, South Korea. Cloning is controversial
everywhere in the world. The international
community must act now to send a clear message
that human cloning is an affront to human
dignity that cannot be tolerated. We’re gonna be cloned
just for the organs. You get old and you grow a new guy out of
yourself and just take your brain out
throw it into a new body. And we will ensure that
our government never opens the door to
the use of cloning for human reproduction. Are we acting more like
the creator than creatures? Are we trying to play the
role of God on this? In South Korea, the cloning of animals is
not just accepted, it’s a business. At Su-En Biotech Labs in
Seoul, you can have your favorite pooch
cloned for $100,000. The lab is ground zero
for cloning, and is led by Dr. Hwang
Woo-Suk, a South Korean scientist with an alleged
shady past. He also partners with a
Siberian laboratory that supplies him with
frozen mammoth meat found in the Russian far
north. My team already have
tried to find the intact cell from frozen mammoth
tissues from Siberia. The potential surrogate
mother will be the Asian elephant. Very difficult process. I think we have to try. Cloning technology was
first invented in 1950. Robert Briggs first
introduced the idea. He used frogs’ eggs. He removed the nucleus of
a frog’s egg cell and added a blastocyst cell
to reproduce. Everyone from that time
period rejected the idea and called it
nonsense. And exactly 50 years
later, Dolly was cloned with a
somatic cell. Why clone the mammoth? Someone on this Earth
will have to do it. And I think it’s us. We have cloning
technology, if we find the viable, live cell, I
believe we can do it. Don’t you think it will
be fun to find out what comes out? Hey buddy, you okay? Michael and Jackson. Michael and Jackson? Michael and Jackson. So these two are the
exact same. So far, they’ve proven cloning
isn’t science fiction. It’s reality. Some of these dogs are
deliberately genetically modified to carry
markers. These dogs right here are
being cloned for Alzheimer’s research. But to verify that they
actually are clones, they’ve made these claws
fluorescent, sort of like a
fluorescent green. Their claws glow in the
dark. I’ve had three dogs in my
life. None of my dogs had claws
that could glow in the dark, as if they were
like, in a club ready to party. But how does cloning
actually work? Basically, Dr. Hwang and his team take
the egg of a living dog. They remove the nucleus
from the egg and swap in the genetic materials
from a desired clone. The egg is then shocked
to kick off cell reproduction. And the growing egg is inserted into the
surrogate mother. In other words, this
surrogate was impregnated with the
cloned eggs of a Boston terrier from the pet of
an American client. She successfully gave
birth to a clone of an identical dog
thousands of miles away. In a few years this could
be an Asian elephant that’s bummed out about,
you know, birthing this giant
mammoth. And then, we’re all waiting with
bated breath to see if the Asian elephant would
accept the 30,000 year old beast. What would you say to
people who say Su-En is playing God. In the case of the
Siberian mammoth, the Siberian climate kept it buried in a frozen
state. Not to play God, but I
believe we are obligated to bring it back, as
humans. So how do we get from
cloning dogs to cloning an animal that’s been
extinct for almost 4,000 years? Turns out, it’s pretty
difficult. First of all, finding a
living cell from frozen mammoths found in Siberia
isn’t easy. In fact, researchers
regularly take flesh samples from
Buttercup, the most famous frozen
mammoth. Mammoth to date, to find
the key to what will hopefully allow them the
chance to resurrect the legendary hairy
elephant. So, in my hands, right
here, is several pieces of 40,000 year old
mammoth tissue. It looks like wood chips,
but this is the stuff that
could possibly clone and bring back the mammoth
from its extinction. So in other words, I’m
literally holding a plot line from Jurassic Park
in my hands. Once they find that
living mammoth cell, the plan is to insert it
into an egg of an Asian elephant, the mammoth’s
nearest genetic relative, and have Asian Ellie give
birth to its freaky cloned calf from the Ice
Age. We sat down with a Sooam
scientist to find out exactly what we can
expect from cloning technology in the future. If we can bring back the
extinct species, it also means that we can
somehow be able to help endangered species by
using our cloning process to repopulate them and help them reestablish
into their environment. Why exactly do you want to bring the
mammoth back? Because it’s available. That we are starting with
a mammoth. Other big mammals that
have gone extinct if we are able to find a
sample, then we will really love
to try cloning them. The mammoth’s the one you
have access to. Maybe it’s a hairy rhino. What if you got like a
Neanderthal? Maybe there will be an
interest because it’s still sort of considered
human cloning, I’m not sure if it will
be legally allowed or- Would you clone yourself? I don’t think we’ll be
able to clone, like, a complete human being. You don’t think so? Not like a, like, legally
or? Cuz the thing is is, right now you clearly
could. If you were allowed to,
the gloves were off, cloning’s the name of the
game, you probably could do it. Theoretically, yes. In my case, I’m not sure
if I would like to clone like a complete human
copy of me. But I think that you
know, cloning maybe an organ
for medical purposes, or cloning tissues or the
stem cells actually would be very
helpful in the future. You know, you bring back
the mammoth, is it just going to be in
a zoo? If we are successful, and
if we get a mammoth, they will prepare an
environment where the mammoth can survive
and the mammoth can live. The closest would be
Siberia, the tundra. It’s like you’re creating
the tool-. Mm-hm. And the research around
it. Mm-hm. And the world can kind of
do what it will with it. It’s the policymakers
that will, in the end, decide up to
where this technology can be applied. And Dr. Wang has tested
some of these policies in his cloning pursuits. After allegedly
falsifying human stem cell cloning studies and allegations of
embezzlement, Sooam’s lead scientist,
Doctor Wang, admitted he spent private donations
in the early 2000s to pay off the Russian mafia for
mammoth tissue samples. But he withstood the
controversy and some of his charges have
since disappeared. We followed Dr. Wang to a
remote area outside Seoul to witness his latest
cloning endeavor. We’re on our way to Sooam
Labs Clone Farm. We’re actually gonna see
some cloned cows that are more resistant to
foot and mouth and the government’s actually
tried to have him do that in order to combat
some of those problems within Korea. We believe that by
cloning these cows, the quality of meat will
be superb and the size of them will be
much bigger. In 10 years, I believe
that in every corner of Korea, cloned cow meat will be
available. So these are the cloned
cows? Yeah. And how old are they? Five to seven months
already. Are they all the same
clone? Two kinds of original. That one is the surrogate
mother cow and that one is the cloned
calf. I know that there’s other
cloners-. Mm-hm.
If that’s what you guys are called. There’s another one in
Korea, if I’m not mistaken. There’s also another guy
in Japan. Why did they choose
Sooam? We were the first team to
successfully clone a coyote from a dog. But the meaty question of
the present? Where is the mammoth meat
coming from, and who finds these frozen
beasts? To find out, we headed to
the coldest city on Earth to meet the gray market
mammoth hunters who not only find the mammoths
used for cloning, but also make a
little cash on the side from the beasts’ most
defining feature. So we just landed in
Siberia, it’s minus 30. We’re gonna warm up,
cause I need a fresh babushka to give me a
hug, cause it’s cold as hell
right now. Half my face is hair and
I’m still cold. Like the beaver in Canada
or the bald eagle in
America, the woolly mammoth is a
cultural icon for Russia. Ever since prehistoric
man roamed the Siberian ice plains, humans have
been discovering tusks and and frozen
bodies of mythical, hairy elephants. Throughout history,
scientists have flocked to Siberia in hopes of
encountering the frozen bodies of
woolly mammoths, while natives traded the
tusks in the ivory trade. With climate change
melting permafrost in the Arctic, more mammoth
parts lying dormant since the Ice Age have been
reappearing still frozen. Tusk hunters go to
northern Siberia to gather mammoth ivory in
an increasingly lucrative and dangerous trade. Competing hunters have
even been known to engage in gunfights. All to ship the ancient
ivory to traders who turn to mammoth tusks instead of illegal
elephant ivory. Our source told us local
tusk hunters were on high alert. With our fixer
negotiating, they finally agreed to
show us the goods. How much does this cost? 2.5 million rubles. Do people fight for
these? The fight is to buy it
from people who found it. Like elephant tusk. Rich people buy it all
the time. After the tusk hunters
have divided their stash in northern Siberia, they
sell off parts of their haul to carving
sweatshops, who then turn the mammoth ivory
into tourist-friendly trinkets, or sell full
tusks to foreign buyers. Ivory has become a global
commodity. But a large majority of
the mammoth goods is packaged up and
shipped off to Asia. We decided to check out a
local stash of mammoth ivory destined to be
shipped overseas. Wow. Some mega stash. All this stuff, they told
us, is going to China. And in all, this is actually, what’s
this 600 kilograms? Yeah. So that’s about a 100k,
they said, which, given the economy in Russia, is
a lot of money. While it was clear the
tusks went to wealthy buyers all over
the world, the frozen meat was going
straight to South Korea. And the man making that
happen is Semyon Grigoriev, a native of
Yakutsk and the head of a laboratory dedicated to
the mammoth in Siberia. Grigoriev was part of the
team bringing Buttercup back to Yakutsk and the
Su-En cloning labs, where he has a scientific
partnership. This is mammoth bone
marrow. We sampled bone marrow with our
Korean colleagues. Nobody found mammoth with
soft tissues with so good condition. Yeah, because it looked
almost like a steak. Best mammoth in the
world. He’s also one of the few
people in the world to have actually tasted 40,000 year old
wooly mammoth meat. A piece of, very, very small piece of
mammoth meat. And how did that taste? Not bad. Wow. It looks like the ribs
that Fred Flintstone would eat. Holy. I thought we’d be examing
Buttercup’s leg, but Grigoriev handed me a
scalpel and insisted I cut out a
meaty sample for the Korean cloning
scientists. It’s just like leather. The skin and muscle
tissue have best samples for trying to clone the
mammoth. Grigoriev also had
Buttercup’s perfectly intact trunk stashed away
in a mini fridge. Do you think you’re
actually gonna be able to clone a mammoth? Not very soon. But I hope that at least
our children will see a live mammoth. We’re walking through the
open air Yakutian market where you can actually
buy frozen 200-pound salmon, and pike and even
reindeer meat. The interesting thing is,
when you say the word mammoth, people’s ears
perk up, and they all want to talk to
you about it. And people start saying where you can find it in
the North. There are spirits all
around us. That’s why you shouldn’t
look for mammoth bones and tusks. By doing that, a person
and his family can get
cursed. It’s dangerous. Even Vladimir Putin wants
to profit from the mammoth. President Putin recently
came to Yakutsk to see first hand how close we
are to actually cloning the Ice Age beast. Since Yakutsk is the big, hairy elephant capital of
Russia, we headed to a local
factory where artistic carvers work year round
with mammoth ivory. So basically they take
this piece of extinct animal tusk and they turn
it into this thing. Just gets whittled down. It’s clear, while the
mammoth has been extinct for only a
few thousand years, it was still a large part
of Yakutian culture. Our next step was Moscow,
to meet one of the godfathers of mammoth
ivory. And discover the major
reason driving the market’s interest in
the prehistoric creature. Russia is a wild and
wonderful place. Whether it was shooting
guns with our mustached driver on the side of a
highway or a vodka bar in a museum,
Russia was surreal. We’re going to be meeting
who is, ostensibly, the mammoth
tusk oligarch of Russia. He’s one of the biggest
mammoth tusk dealers in the
world. He’s even found two
frozen mammoths. We’re gonna do banya, gonna drink vodka with
this guy. His name is Nikolai, apparently he loves
wearing weird hats. Before this mammoth ivory
dealer even discussed a tusk, he
wanted to vet me in the fires of the
Russian banya. Yes, yes! Ooh, I am good. Aah! After that, Nikolai
finally sat down for mammoth talk. After embargo for
elephant-. Mm-hm. People start to sell
mammoth. Before, nobody want it. Bigger then better. But the biggest mammoth
tusk it’s 1m 25cm. How much? I got maybe $50,000 USD
for this tusk. It’s a business without
some rules. What do you think about
the mammoth coming back? Why not? A few days later, Nikolai
agreed to take us to two stashes of mammoth tusks
in Moscow. To be a man you have to
go to Siberia and participate in mammoth
ivory expedition. The first stop, his shady
storage locker that looked like a
dungeon and had books and mammoth
tusks everywhere. Let’s go.
The other, a warehouse of a major
exporter and Nikolai’s business
partner. Little did we know this
grimy building outside Moscow was the resting
place for the remains of hundreds
of prehistoric beasts. This is all four tons? Yes. In total. Yes, yes. Look, here two ton. Another two tons here? Yeah. How many closets full of
mammoth tusks do they have? Actually it’s-. Here’s another secret
one. Four. Oh. It’s splinters. Wow. And all of it’s probably
going to China. China, yeah. Thailand. Yes. Because it’s, it’s
elephant countries. This is culture. Yeah. Vietnam? Of course, as well. Sometimes in China, they make this quality of
tusk. Did you ever think about
all the mammoths that now have their tusks
here? Yeah, this, it’s a
business. It’s difficult to
explain. While the exporters claim
they’re legal businessmen, how they got
millions of dollars worth of tusks
remains a mystery. I’m standing on top of
dozens of pairs of mammoth tusks, and just
think to yourself. How many mammoths just
died? None of them would fit in
here, not one would fit in this storage facility,
but all their tusks. So, without wealthy ivory
lovers, the rich businessmen wouldn’t hire
hunters to dig for tusks. Meaning the mammoth
bodies buried in northern Siberia with
their clonable DNA would be lost forever. It’s the strange circle
of mammoth. But what happens if we
actually bring the mammoth back to
life? We may have the
scientific skill to actually clone this
thing, but have we truly considered
the consequences of wooly mammoths returning
to Earth in the 21st century?

100 thoughts on “The Mission to Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth

  1. I like how you want to bring endangered species back from the brink by cloning, that's a good idea, could you start with the white rhino

  2. Has anyone else ever watched the horror movie about a prehistoric mammoth that came back to life and went on the rampage killing everybody?……

  3. Next:
    Korean scientists discover alien creature able to do symbiosis with animals and possibly humans…VENOM

  4. Scientist: all right, today we are going to resurrect a T. rex back to life.

    Lion: But then am I still be the king ?

  5. Anyone who believes they hvn't already tried to clone EVERY THING they hve ….
    HOW many abortions are there, but they will clone children.
    The cloned puppies, no matter what one thinks, ARE used in making fur coats. There are cloned humans. Everything they say about no cloning is and has been a lie. The dogs (beagles) hve never seen or walked on grass.
    WHY are we obligated to bring ancient spieces back – why does he believe that, Mr. Journalist nincompoop?

  6. Even if you could ressurect the Mammoth how exactly is it going to survive, what ecological niche can it occupy, what habitat. It's one thing to revive an extinct species, it's another to revive an extinct ecosystem.

  7. Cloning for personal gain, is playing god.
    Cloning for things like education, and the revival of species (some of which Man has been responsible for pushing to or beyond extinction), is mending an error, and a science treasure trove.
    We have no proof how some species lived their lives.
    Is it not playing god to say be responsible for the last of various Galapagos Tortoise species, Cats, Rhino etc.?

  8. Cloning is the future. More and more humans are being born everyday and less our dying and living longer. The world is getting overpopulated and these people will need sustainable food. Cloned meat that is genetically modified to be healthier and superb for you will solve this problem.

  9. Why would you clone your dog? What's the point? Part of truly loving something is having to realize at some point you must let it go (lose it to death). There's no point otherwise, just playing god.

  10. All that is happening is replacing one cell with another. I see no issues with that. What if you did want to clone yourself? Your choice!

  11. Cloning is actually a really bad thing. Just makes the animal suffer and can cause something really bad for other animals.

  12. cloning animals is ok its cloning humans that is wrong. having said that i predict that there will be political opposition to cloning a Mammoth because if you can resurrect an extinct animal then suddenly there is no longer anything as an endagered species and if there is no longer such a thing as an endangered species environmentlits lose one of their major cause celebres

  13. Im so grateful there aren't any megalodon DNA left. Because if there was, were moving to mars. The megalodon is a killing machine. Someone's going to try and repopulate megalodons.

  14. So funny, to find out that people are trying so hard to revive the mammoth, while the modern elephants are in the brink of extinction..

  15. Man always want to play with fire 🔥 it makes no sense to recreate anything that God destroyed

  16. if there is a God and all of our lives was and is an experiment It would be very happy at any time soon or later to destroy this gone so wrong experiment! Maybe it is waiting to see how far we will take things this time again and may be this the final destruction of this malware this virus we call human beings ..

  17. You know what, why not harvest the genes and then culture it, then find a way to make it a nucleus to be able to use it for cloning?

  18. "Why the mammoth?"
    bECaUSe wE cAn… 😐
    Yeah but why bring it back? What's the purpose? He can't even answer the question.

  19. I feel so bad for the surrogate dog mothers! Pregnancy is so hard on an animal and I'm sure they reuse the pups over and over again 🙁

  20. they keep talking about how if they can do this they will be able to help endangered species… they already have that technology to save endangered species! bringing back the woolly mammoth has nothing to do with endangered species, besides even if they are successful in cloning the mammoth the world is not what it was thousands of years ago when they walked the Earth. Global Warming is melting the permafrost that's how they are able to find the mammoth remains not to mention the rainforest is on fire which supplies the Eath with nearly 20-30 % of its oxygen. What kind of life would it be for that animal to spend its life in a lab being tested, poked, prodded. Have we learned nothing from Jurrasic park? there are animals who are dying today and could end up like the mammoth that could benefit from cloning why waste it on this?

  21. I always though the having pterodactyls in the wild would be cool.  Just think about having your wife standing outside scanning the sky's for hungry pterodactyls as you try to mow the lawn.  Everyone has thick steel tops over there riding mowers and a shotguns mounted next to the steering wheel.  Man, that would be cool!

  22. Can they just leave it alone,the mamoth in peace,once they clone it it will not be the same the poor animal will die,cause it's not natural in later life they die young they develop arthritis that's what happened to dolly the sheep who died,the monkeys

  23. Dear soul South Korea,
    I would like a baby wooly mammoth 🐘 if I won the lottery I will fly straight to you.

    Yours truly,
    Bored child from America

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