WATCH: The world’s most complete preserved mammoth on display in Victoria

40,000-year-old baby mammoth on display at Royal BC Museum
WATCH: The best-preserved specimen in existence - a 40,000-year-old baby mammoth - is on display at the Royal BC Museum. Kylie Stanton reports.

A 40,000-year-old baby mammoth is at the centre of a new exhibit at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.

The exhibit called “Mammoths! Giants of the Ice Age” gives a rare glimpse into the lost world of mammoths, and transports visitors to a time when these giants walked among us.

“You sort of hear that [they were] 3.5 metres tall, but until you actually see a full-size reconstruction, you have no idea of just how huge [they were],” says the museum’s Botany and Earth History Curator Richard Hebda.

But it’s one of the smallest pieces that’s getting all of the attention.

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The baby woolly mammoth named Lyuba is the world’s best preserved specimen in existence.

She was discovered in 2007 in northern Siberia by a reindeer herder.

Lyuba was only about 30 days old when she died of suffocation after being trapped in mud along the banks of a river.

Now mummified, her tail and one ear are missing, but she’s otherwise intact.

lyuba the mammoth

“She is the very special national treasure to the Russians and to have the opportunity to bring her across so many kilometers, she is so precious,” says Royal BC Museum CEO Jack Lohman.

This is only the fourth time the mammoth has been outside of Russia and is its first appearance in Canada.

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But getting her here was a mission of sorts, requiring years of negotiating and relationship building to make it a reality.

“This is one of the greatest days for the museum,” says Lohman.

But these mammoths not only inhabited Russia, but also left a mark here in B.C.

“It’s hard to think when we walk up Government Street that these sorts of creatures roamed here, but we also begin to think about what happened to them, why they became extinct,” says Lohman.

The exhibit lets visitors walk through the ancient landscapes where mammoths lived, touch mammoth tusks and learn how today’s scientists excavate and learn more about these animals, their eventual extinction and whether it’s possible to clone them today.

~With files from Kylie Stanton