Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Mammoths? De-extinction and Animal Welfare

  • Heather BrowningEmail author


De-extinction is the process through which extinct species can be brought back into existence. Although these projects have the potential to cause great harm to animal welfare, discussion on issues surrounding de-extinction have focussed primarily on other issues. In this paper, I examine the potential types of welfare harm that can arise through de-extinction programs, including problems with cloning, captive rearing and re-introduction. I argue that welfare harm should be an important consideration when making decisions on de-extinction projects. Though most of the proposed benefits of these projects are insufficient to outweigh the current potential welfare harm, these problems may be overcome with further development of the technology and careful selection of appropriate species as de-extinction candidates.


De-extinction Animal welfare Cloning Reintroduction 



This research is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. Thanks to Seth Lazar for assistance and comments on drafts of this article. Thanks also to two anonymous reviewers for their feedback, which helped improve and clarify this manuscript. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2016 Australasian Association of Philosophy conference, and benefitted greatly from the surrounding discussion there.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhilosophyAustralian National UniversityActonAustralia

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