Now that de-extinction looms as a possibility, it presents some thorny questions: Should we bring back these species? And what would we do with them?
Stuart Pimm of Duke University argued in an opinion piece in National Geographic that these efforts would be a “colossal waste” if scientists don’t know where to put revived species that had been driven off the planet because their habitats became unsafe.
“A resurrected Pyrenean ibex will need a safe home,” Pimm wrote. “Those of us who attempt to reintroduce zoo-bred species that have gone extinct in the wild have one question at the top of our list: Where do we put them? Hunters ate this wild goat to extinction. Reintroduce a resurrected ibex to the area where it belongs and it will become the most expensive cabrito ever eaten.”
Pimm also worries that de-extinction could create a false impression that science can save endangered species, turning the focus away from conservation. But others argue that bringing back iconic, charismatic creatures could stir support for species preservation.