|DEARBORN - It was a day that started like many others for the
Russian family herding reindeer over the frozen soil near the Bolchaya Balakhnaya River in
Siberia until they realized the ivory tusks poking from the ground belonged to a giant
mammoth - an animal species that had been extinct for more than 5,000 years. Located under
15 feet of permafrost, the remains of a 20,000-year-old woolly mammoth, still encased in
ice, were cut out of the ground, airlifted by helicopter and flown 200 miles to the
neighboring town of Khatanga to be placed in an ice cave for future study.
excavation is chronicled in "Raising the Mammoth," premiering on Sunday, March
12 at 8 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel, sponsored by Ford Motor Company and Computer
Associates International, Inc. The two-hour special, narrated by actor Jeff Bridges and
carried on the Discovery network in 146 countries around the globe, traces the saga of the
unearthed mammoth - from its initial discovery in 1997 to the dramatic 1999 airlift. The
program also examines the prospects that lay ahead for the scientists who will begin
studying the carcass this spring.
"Ford Motor Company is very proud to be a sponsor of this show because the
discovery and excavation of this mammoth is certain to be a very newsworthy event to
anyone interested in science or the whole topic of where we came from," says Michelle
Cervantez, Trustmark Marketing Manager for Ford Motor Company.
The expedition to raise the mammoth from its frozen grave was spearheaded by French
explorer Bernard Buigues. "Raising the Mammoth" recounts Buigues' early scouting
of the site. The program also shows how Buigues, along with a team of international
scientists, returned to the remote location - about 477 miles north of the Arctic Circle -
in September of 1999 determined to raise the mammoth from its icy tomb. Earlier
excavations on mammoth discoveries had taken place during summer months, with hot water
used to melt away the ice. But Buigues wanted to be the first to remove the 23-ton
specimen still frozen, complete with all the scientific data, so it could be studied in a
During the March 12 program, viewers will have the chance to see what mammoths may have
actually looked like alive through state-of-the-art computer animation sequences which
recreate life on the Siberian tundra as it may have appeared more than 20,000 years ago.
In addition, the program includes background information on mammoths themselves, who first
appeared in Africa more than 4 million years ago and later migrated north, adapting to the
frigid temperatures by growing hair.
"Raising the Mammoth" marks the first time Ford Motor Company has sponsored a
global program on the Discovery Channel. Ford Motor Company's global anthem will appear
during the two-hour program.
(March 9, 2000)