Are certain de-extincted animal species going to be reintroduced into their original habitats? Such as the dodos?
Yes! Huxley Paleozoo and other members of the International De-Extinction Alliance are actively involved in reintroducing de-extincted species. We run breeding programs for some recently extinct animals and, in collaboration with other organizations and local authorities, start to reintroduce these populations to protected land. We’re currently working on the reintroduction of 8 recently extinct animals:
- Dodo: we’ve reintroduced dodos to Black River Gorges National Park and other locations in Mauritius, in tandem with an effort to eradicate invasive mammals such as pigs. They’ve settled in pretty well in some locations, and thanks to their fearless nature, are helping the local ecotourism (people like #dodoselfies).
- Southern gastric-brooding frog: reintroduction of gastric-brooding frogs has taken place on a patch of private land near Jimna, Queensland, which is owned by Huxley Paleozoo and being managed to replicate the habitat before human interference. The frogs, which have been made chytrid-resistant as a precaution, need the assisted habitat to survive, but we expect the population to take root. Plans for managing a similar preserve in Costa Rica for golden toad reintroduction are being considered.
- Labrador duck: five years ago, Huxley Paleozoo begin reintroducing Labrador ducks, with initial release at a remote protected coastline in eastern Quebec. Surprisingly, they’ve been doing well, and are exhibiting historical migration patterns, always returning to the same site where they were introduced to breed in safety.
- California grizzly bear: in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences, we’ve created a population of grizzly bears genetically and phenotypically similar to the extinct California subspecies. Approximately 50 bears now live in the state.
- Great auk: following on the heels of the successful Labrador duck reintroduction, we’ve begun working to reintroduce great auk colonies in the northern Atlantic. We’re closely monitoring a test population of 34 individuals introduced to Grímsey, Iceland. In time, more great auks, possibly including the population currently living in the Aquarium, will be added to this colony.
- Quagga: to spur genetic diversity and purity in the Quagga Project, we’ve been commissioned to make some more quaggas incorporating DNA from museum specimens. The Quagga Project is currently beginning to move our quaggas, their quagga-like zebras, and their descendants into national parks in South Africa.
- Pink-headed duck: twelve individuals of our pink-headed duck population are scheduled to be introduced to a wildlife sanctuary in the Sundarbans in March. They will be monitored to test feasibility of a larger-scale reintroduction
- Thylacine: negotiations are underway with Tasmanian authorities to introduce thylacines to the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area.
As well, other institutions are working on rewilding other de-extincted organisms. For example, Pleistocene Park in Siberia provides a home for de-extincted Ice Age megafauna such as woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos, and Steppe bison.
- Rohan Harris