A new YouGov survey asked Americans for their thoughts on preserving endangered species or even trying to bring back extinct species. The findings suggest that while there are some creatures that Americans would like to bring back, there are many they’d prefer to leave in the past.
Nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. adult citizens strongly or somewhat support scientists trying to prevent animal species from going extinct. Far fewer (11%) are strongly or somewhat opposed, and 15% say they are unsure.
But bringing back extinct animals is a different story. Only one-third (32%) of Americans say they would strongly or somewhat support scientists trying to do this. Far more (45%) say they are somewhat or strongly opposed to this idea. Men (37%) are more likely than women (27%) to say they would support scientists trying to bring back extinct species using genetic science.
Half (50%) of Americans say that if it were possible to bring back extinct species, the giant tortoise should be reintroduced in their original habitat. (While there still are some giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, several species have gone extinct).
Slightly fewer Americans would want to reintroduce the passenger pigeon or the northern white rhinoceros (44% each). The people who want a return of northern white rhinos might get their wish: Scientists at the San Diego Zoo are reportedly working to bring the northern white rhinoceros back from extinction using frozen skin cells.
Around two in five (39%) would bring back the dodo bird and 37% would reintroduce the Caribbean monk seal.
When it comes to certain very large extinct creatures, most Americans agree with Dr. Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum in the film “Jurassic Park”: “Dinosaurs had their shot, and nature selected them for extinction.”
Just one in 10 Americans (10%) would bring back the tyrannosaurus rex, while 11% would bring back the pterodactyl and 12% would reintroduce the triceratops.
Men are more likely than women to think it’s a good idea to bring back all of these extinct species. The gap is especially large on the question of the woolly mammoth, which 29% of men but just 19% of women say should be brought back. Men are also 8 percentage points more likely than women to say the Tasmanian tiger should be brought back (34% to 26%). Men are about twice as likely as women to want to bring back the tyrannosaurus rex (13% to 7%), the pterodactyl (14% to 7%), and the triceratops (16% to 8%).
Additional data from this survey finds that nearly half (48%) of Americans expect that humans themselves will also go extinct at some point.
Relatively few (7%) think that humankind will go extinct in less than 100 years. Another 10% think it will happen in 101 to 500 years, and 10% think the end of humankind will happen in 501 to 1,000 years. About twice as many (21%) think it will take more than 1,000 years for humankind to go extinct, and another 21% say this will never happen. The largest share (31%) are not sure when or if humankind will go extinct.
Older Americans are more likely to say humankind will never go the way of the Dodo bird. About one-quarter (26%) of Americans 65 and older, along with 24% of 45- to 64-year-olds, say humans will never go extinct. Americans who are between 30 and 44 have less faith (19%), and just 13% of adults under 30 share this opinion.
See the toplines and crosstabs from this U.S. News Poll
Methodology: This U.S. News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between April 13 – 19, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as news interest and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.3% for the entire sample.