Billion Dollar Startup Filming Woolly Mammoth Resurrection


Colossal Biosciences, the genetic engineering startup striving to bring back extinct species and protect endangered ones, has brought on James Reed as director for a multi-year documentary series. The episodes will chronicle Colossal’s attempts to revive species like the woolly mammoth and the dodo bird.

A view of a huge mammoth completely assembled. (Photo by Ana Fernandez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Reed worked on the Oscar-winning Netflix documentary “My Octopus Teacher,” a film that followed a filmmaker’s bond with an octopus over a year. In this new venture with Colossal, Reed and his producing partner Matt Houghton will have exclusive access to Colossal’s efforts over the next few years and take viewers behind the scenes.

The docuseries will offer an inside look at Colossal’s de-extinction projects and its innovative conservation technology that aims to protect endangered species, such as elephants and Northern white rhinos. The series will also examine how Colossal is using AI to understand animal behavior and the potential impact of rewilding.

Reed, Houghton, and Colossal will all work together with Jillian Share for Teton Ridge Entertainment and executive producer Michael Dougherty on the project. Teton Ridge Entertainment will financially back the first phase of production, with the ultimate aim of finding a distribution partner.

Related: This Meatball Is Mammoth. Seriously, It’s Made From the Prehistoric Woolly Elephant.

It’s unclear how much the docuseries will cost and when it will air at this time.

Colossal was formed in 2021 around the idea that bringing back extinct species could improve life today. The woolly mammoth, for example, could help fight climate change by limiting the greenhouse gases released from the Arctic due to global warming. Bringing back the mammoth will teach scientists more about gene editing, which could help with real-life improvements like preventing disease in human beings. Colossal has raised $225 million in total funds, bringing its valuation to over $1 billion.

In a 2021 interview with Entrepreneur, Colossal co-founder Ben Lamm stated that the company’s goal was to have its first woolly mammoth calves within six years. The plan is to take skin cells from Asian elephants and put them into stem cells with frozen mammoth DNA to form an embryo. The embryo would then be placed in an artificial womb in a lab or carried to term by a surrogate mother.

By recreating the woolly mammoth, Lamm stated that Colossal would have a “de-extinction toolkit” that the company could also use to preserve critically endangered species.

A concern leveled against the startup is that things could go wrong as it experiments with bringing back animals. When it comes to potential bad actors or adverse consequences, Lamm said “as long as we’re transparent, people can hold us accountable.”