Film Screening: Pleistocene Park

Apr 25, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm



Event Description

Introductory remarks by Anya Berstein, Harvard University

In the mid 1990’s eccentric Russian scientist Sergey Zimov made the startling discovery that melting arctic permafrost threatened to release huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, potentially creating a feedback loop that will lead to runaway climate change.

Impatient with world’s slow reaction to this news Zimov proposed that millions of horses, bison, reindeer, yaks, muskoxen, camels — and perhaps cloned wooly mammoths — once again roaming the northern half of Asia, can stabilize permafrost and prevent this catastrophic scenario of runaway global warming.

His Pleistocene Park is a controversial attempt to mitigate melting permafrost by reverse engineering the ‘Mammoth Steppe’ ecosystem – a now vanished ice age grassland, complete with Serengeti-like herds of roaming herbivores, which once stretched from Spain to Canada.

Mammoth Step Productions in association with Jed Riffe Films

"This remarkable documentary is very much about how this tremendously ambitious idea collides with the messy, muddy, buggy reality of dredging up various bands of muskoxen, reindeer, wild horse, yak, moose and bison and delivering these animals to a small patch of land in one of the remotest corners of one of the most remote regions on Earth. This involves trucks, barges, crates, tractors, sledges, cranes - all of a rather dodgy nature - and unfathomable amounts of mud...The themes are serious, the warnings dire, the science sound - but the story of the Zimovs' dogged Quixotic pursuit to save the world via mass ecological intervention is also inspiring and oddly hopeful."

Eliezer Gurarie, Professor of Environmental Biology, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Organized as a part of the course "Between Heaven and Hell: Myths and Memories of Siberia" (SLA/ANT338, Professor Serguei Oushakine)

Pleistocence Park Film screening
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
  • Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
  • Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures