Are Mammoths Really Coming to the San Antonio Zoo?

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 3, 2022 10:00 pm

San Antonio Zoo Mammoth Exhibit

A rendering of a wooly mammoth, the species is set for a return to the Earth at the San Antonio Zoo

Photo Credit: San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo have made the surprising announcement that they will become home to the first woolly mammoth on show if the species can be brought back from extinction. Announced on April 1st the zoo insist the announcement is not an April Fools prank and have provided details of their partnership with a group actively working on the technology needed to make this possible.

They are working with Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences on a range of projects including the return of the mammoth through DNA de-extinction technology.

In a statement the zoo said, "The ultimate goal is for Woolly Mammoths to be re-introduced to the wild to decelerate the melting of arctic permafrost, prevent greenhouse emissions trapped within the permafrost layer, revert now-overshrubbed forest into natural arctic grasslands, and more. San Antonio Zoo could be the first location of this genetically engineered elephant-mammoth hybrid."

Estimates suggest that 30,000 species are being drive to extinction. A main goal of Colossal is the de-extinction of species.

San Antonio Zoo Mammoth Exhibit

The public may get views of the mammoth as they a cross a bridge over the road to access their new habitat

Photo Credit: San Antonio Zoo

The technology being used by Colossal is CRISPR, the most advanced, applicable technique in genetic engineering, is an engineered cellular technology used for recognizing and cutting a specific code of DNA inside the nucleus.

Colossal explained the process in the release from San Antonio Zoo, "In mammalian cells, such as an elephant or a Woolly Mammoth, CRISPR works with an enzyme called Cas9 to modify genes. A CRISPR-Cas9 complex will use a single guide RNA from CRISPR to guide and recognize a specific sequence of DNA, where the Cas9 molecule will cleave those strands that are complementary to the CRISPR sequence. This allows for the reinsertion of the laboratory-engineered DNA, giving the ability to insert cold-resistant characteristics into elephant DNA. Ultimately, leading to the de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth.''

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“Our goal is to have our first calves in the next four to six years,” said Austinite tech

entrepreneur Ben Lamm, Cofounder of Colossal. “This is going to change everything.”

“There are times when technology and nature collide - however, through DNA work and the de-extinction science behind Colossal, this is a time when nature and humankind will benefit,” said Tim Morrow, President & CEO of San Antonio Zoo. “Through this science, we hope to find a vaccine for EEHV, a virus that strikes elephants, and restore a balance to nature by saving and de-extincting species on the brink.”

San Antonio Zoo are seeking to use land on the west side of Highway 281 before the mammoths are returned to the wild. The space would be connected to the zoo by a bridge similar to the recently opened Hardberger Park Land Bridge. This will provide a large acreage and visibility for guests.

Learn more about Elephants here - Elephant Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the San Antonio Zoo on their website – San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo Mammoth Exhibit

Plans show the expansion of San Antonio Zoo where the mammoths would be housed. It will be linked with the current elephant habitat

Photo Credit: San Antonio Zoo

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