Considered as the world's only fully intact and preserved animal of its kind, a 40,000-year-old juvenile mammoth on May 27 arrived in Canada from Russia for a very special exhibit.
Lyuba the baby mammoth, whose name means "love," was discovered frozen in Siberia in 2007 by a reindeer herder whose partner is also named Lyuba.
North Siberia's Shemanovsky Yamal-Nenets District Museum has become the mammoth's home since its discovery.
In 2014, Lyuba travelled to the National History Museum in London to be part of an exhibit that lasted from May through September.
Now, it will be featured in a museum in Victoria, marking the fourth time it has been outside Russia and its first time in Canada.
Lyuba will be a highlight of the Royal B.C. Museum's new exhibition entitled Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age that will open this June 3.
When Lyuba was discovered in 2007, scientists examined the find and decided that the female baby mammoth was only at least 30 days old when she died. She got trapped in mud and then suffocated, they said.
Lyuba weighs about 49 kilograms and is 114 centimeters long. Her tail as well as one of her ears are missing. It's believed that the calf was conserved in lactic acid that was produced by the body after death. This "pickled" her soft tissues.
Lyuba has long been preserved in formalin by Russian scientists.
A Triumph of Efforts
The mammoth's appearance in the museum is a remarkable triumph of scientific, diplomatic and personal efforts of the museum.
Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal B.C. Museum, says the mammoth's presence is a coup.
The museum spent years and years convincing and reassuring authorities in Russia that it had the expertise and proper facilities to take care of Lyuba.
Lohman says everyone had to look past strained political moments and develop relationships — museum to museum, scientist to scientist.
He says when dealing with borders, there are a lot of practical issues and hurdles to overcome.
"You are just not allowed to walk across a border carrying artwork or specimens," says Lohman.
When the museum brings in specimens such as Lyuba, it allows Canadian scientists to take part in current and international scientific efforts.
For instance, the museum's own specimens of fossilized mammoth teeth are already part of an international research on the formation of mammoth molars.
This research will link the mammoth's molars to the areas they were discovered and the areas they lived before they died.
Lyuba's curator, Evgeniya Khozyainova, has now arrived in Canada. The minister of culture in Siberia also plans to take part in the exhibit.