British Columbia

New Royal BC Museum exhibit features Lyuba, a 40,000-year-old baby mammoth

A 40,000-year-old wooly mammoth named Lyuba, on loan from a Russian museum, is coming to the Royal BC Museum, and will be seen by the public beginning June 3. The exhibit also features a dire wolf, made famous by Game of Thrones.

Exhibit also features a dire wolf, made famous by Game of Thrones

40,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth Lyuba weighs 110 pounds and 45-inches long. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Dire wolves, mastodons and short-faced bears, oh my.

Those are just some of the creatures featured in a new exhibit at Victoria's Royal BC Museum called Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age.

The exhibit includes a 40,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth as its centrepiece, which the museum calls the best-preserved specimen in existence.

Lyuba is a 40,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth who died at 30 days old after being trapped in a riverbank. She was discovered by a Siberian herder and is the best preserved woolly mammoth ever. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

The mammoth, on loan from the Shemanovskiy Yamal-Nenets District Museum and Exhibition Complex in Siberia, has been travelling the world since 2010.

The mammoth is named Lyuba, after the wife of the Siberian herder who discovered it, according to Evgeniya Khzyainov, deputy director and curator for the Shemonovskiy Museum.

Khzyainov told All Points West's Sterling Eyford that the mammoth was about one or two months old when it died by drowning.

"When she died she wasn't damaged by other animals, she was frozen, and when she froze it was [lucky] she wasn't damaged again by animals," said Khzyainov, speaking through an interpreter.

Tufts of hair are still visible on Lyuba's body. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

This is the first time that Lyuba will be displayed in Canada — although the exhibit's stop in Toronto featured a replica of the mammoth.

"I know it was very well-received in Toronto — they loved it there," Chris McGarrity, who helped bring the exhibit to Victoria.

"I think it's a fabulous show. It just shows, I think [it] just changes some misconceptions about what these animals were and how they lived, when they lived, where they lived, their evolutionary relationships. That's something that I was really interested in."

The crate containing the woolly baby mammoth was opened on May 27. It will be displayed at the museum starting June 3. (Sterling Eyford/CBC)

McGarrity added another highlight is the exhibit's dire wolf skull.

"Anyone who loves Game of Thrones, like we all do, I think it is really cool for them to see that," he said. "I think there's just something for everyone here … There's just so much cool material at this exhibit."

The exhibit opens to the public on June 3 and runs until Dec. 31.

With files form CBC Radio One's All Points West and Sterling Eyford

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: 'Best-preserved specimen in existence:' 40,000 year old mammoth coming to Canada for first time

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: 40,000-year-old woolly mammoth Lubya arrives at the Royal BC Museum