Hwang Woo-Suk has been , and his team of South Korean scientists recently received tissue samples from 12,000-year-old cave lion cubs to use in an attempt to clone the extinct predators. The cubs were found exceptionally preserved last year in the permafrost of the Sakha Republic in Siberia. Hwang is also working on a project to clone a woolly mammoth.
There was some controversy between the Yakutian Academy of Sciences in Russia, which is in possession of the two cubs, and Hwang's research team, although it seems that the dispute was about the size of the sample rather than the intent to clone the animal. Hwang's team originally requested a large piece of skull or one of the cub's entire legs.
The Yakutian Academy of Sciences was only willing to send smaller skin and muscle tissue samples to the aspiring cloner and his team, as other research involving the cubs is planned, such as an attempt to find out why the species went extinct about 10,000 years ago. The available tissue is limited on the ancient carcasses of the small cubs, which were only about a week or two old when they died. Still, Hwang believes that they have received enough tissue to clone the extinct cave lion species.
Hwang has struggled to clone a woolly mammoth despite attempts, and it may be that he does not yet have the technology to bring a species back from extinction. But with no one standing in his way, the South Korean researcher may be getting close to pulling it off.