Saturday, 1 April 2017

Exciting New Exhibit at Jersey Zoo

Retrobreeding the Woolly Mammoth

Scientists have been examining the condition of the Woolly Mammoth bones found at La Cotte Cave in St Brelade. The mammoths had been hunted and killed by Neanderthals living in the cave over 100,000 years ago. 

La Cotte Cave

New techniques, developed by Scandinavian Professor Olaf Lipro, head of veterinary research at the University of Irkutsk, and Dr. James Creak of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology mean that it is now possible to extract sufficient DNA from the bones and genetically splice it into elephant cells.

Creak extracted the nuclear DNA, aligned it with similarly-prepared DNA from modern elephant sperm, and concluded that the genetic material was compatible.

Mammoth Bones from La Cotte

This experiment began last year and these cells will be brought to term during 2017 inside surrogate elephant mothers, inside a secret enclosure specially created for this purpose at the newly renamed Jersey Zoo. It is likely that the world’s first elephant-mammoth hybrid, christened Elephas pseudotherias, will be born on 1st April 2017.

Today, 1 April 2017,  Islanders are invited to view the mammoths that roamed the plains below La Cotte in times long past at the aptly named "Mammoth Enclosure" at Jersey Zoo. It will be officially opened at 9 am by the new Lieutenant-Governor General Sir Stephen Dalton and his wife Lady Dalton.

What they said:

Dr Lesley Dickie, CEO, Durrell:

With the rebranding of "Durrell" in Jersey back to the familiar "Jersey Zoo", this is a fantastic opportunity for the public to come and support this special initiative which will surely put the Zoo firmly back on the map. I hope than in addition to seeing the new Mammoth enclosure, visitors will also take in the smaller but no less important species on the verge of extinction.

Dr Lee Durrell:

Gerry used to call the Zoo, a 'Stationary Ark', and I think he would have been pleased in the irony that we had been able to rescue a creature which originally was thought by Victorians to have become extinct in Noah's Flood.

Sir Stephen Dalton, Lieutenant-Governor

This is a wonderful project, and I shall be very pleased to open it. I have long heard of the world-famous Jersey Zoo, but this is my first opportunity to visit in an official capacity, and myself and Lady Dalton are very much looking forward to such a ground-breaking event.

Senator Lyndon Farnham:, Minister responsible for Tourism

This will put Jersey at the top of the Tourism map. Where else can you see a real mammoth anywhere in the world? I hear that The Dodo Cafe will also be serving "mammoth steaks" with chips, but that rest assured, they will be Aberdeen Angus Beef!

John Carter, Jersey Heritage:

It is wonderful that advances in DNA hold extra hope for the preservation of species on the point of extinction. A new exhibition at the Jersey Museum, also opening on April 1, will tie in the remains of the mammoth from which the DNA was extracted.

Keith Beecham, Visit Jersey:

I am delighted that in addition to St Brelade ranking in the top 3 beaches in the British Isles, and Bergerac's Car in a Bergerac themed retrospective now open at the Museum, we also have another great attraction at the Zoo.

1 comment:

James said...

I'd heard rumours that this professor had been in talks with John Hackett about retrobreeding an early wild pig as a niche market product.

I believe there was some talk of branding it as Jurassic Pork...