The Chernobyl Disaster Created A Wildlife Park

“My friends were dying under my eyes.” —Konstantyn Sokolov, Chernobyl survivor

In A Nutshell

In April 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power station experienced the worst meltdown in history. Fast-forward 25 years and the radiation-soaked site has flourished into an accidental wildlife park.

The Whole Bushel

Just after midnight on April 25, 1986, Chernobyl reactor No. 4 went into meltdown. In the following chaos, over 100,000 square kilometers (38,000 sq mi) of land were contaminated, 350,000 people were displaced, and clouds of radioactive dust spewed high into the sky. When authorities closed off the area, it was speculated that nothing would be able to live there for thousands of years—and then something unexpected happened.

Within 20 years of the meltdown, Chernobyl had become an accidental wildlife park. In the absence of humans, local animals were thriving and old species that hadn’t been seen for decades had returned. Lynx, bears, and even moose made their way back into the zone. Most astonishingly of all, none of them were suffering the effects of radiation poisoning. In all the years since, only a single mouse has ever been found with cancer symptoms.

The mind-bending conclusion is that a full-blown nuclear disaster is actually less-damaging to wildlife than simple human existence. By 1986, human incursion meant only 100 eagle owls were thought to be left in the whole of Ukraine. By 2006, they’d established a colony in Chernobyl and are currently flourishing. In light of this evidence, it’s even been suggested that endangered habitats be sprinkled with nuclear waste to keep humans at bay.

Currently, Chernobyl remains more or less off-limits to people. Weirdly, the nuclear disaster responsible for this decision may yet turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the place.

Show Me The Proof

Do Animals in Chernobyl’s Fallout Zone Glow?
Wildlife defies Chernobyl radiation

  • Bananas


  • Biancoceleste

    This article is trying to imply that we human ruin the wildlife and I agree. If yeti, mermaid or any magical creatures actually exist, I hope they stay hidden or we human would kill them.

  • Phil_42

    I wonder if we will see the same effects from the Fukishima disaster in Japan.

    • Chester

      Fukishima ive heard is actually much worse than Chernobyl but the Japanese government is trying to downplay the seriousness of the event as to not panic the populace and have a huge anti nuclear movement peak up. It will probably take 2-300 years before human beings can even populate the area again.

      • I have heard the same thing – apparently it is 500 times worse than chernobyl and getting worse every day.

      • Phil_42

        I also read somewhere that they are worried that the ground water has become contaminated and may not be able to be contained. Some sources are suggesting that it may seep into the ocean as well.

        • Chester

          Last i read it had already gone into the ocean, as Tuna caught off BC had trace amounts of caesium-137, South Korea also banned imports of anything caught near a radial zone around Fukushima. Im sure something will come out in the next few months that basically will force the Japanese government to admit that Fukushima was worse than Chernobyl. 3-4 of the reactors melted down which is staggering.

  • Ruby ♋

    “sprinkled with nuclear waste to keep humans at bay” we really need that

  • edzyl blane

    Moral of the story: The best way to restore ecosystem is to nuke the world. Bring it on WW3!

  • crshingleton

    In the first paragraph it should be “was contaminated” because you are referring to land.

  • Greensmurfs

    Just after midnight on April 25, 1986!!!!! It happened on the 26th April so way not just say that, just after midnight on the 25th means 12.05am 25 April…..again it was the 26th….which is also my brithday….either learn to write bettererer….or look it up on the interweb!! 🙂

  • The animals, birds, bugs, and fish living in your so-called wild-life refuge are smaller, have shorter lives, and are more likely to be sterile than the same species living outside the area.
    The plants growing there are still, and will remain, poisonous and detrimental to those who eat them. That poison is passed on to whoever eats those animals, and the damage passes from one creature to another. The high level radiation will take tens of thousands of years to fall below the danger level, and it will take many millions of years to fall to pre-accident levels.
    The people exposed to the accident and the resulting fallout have died horrible deaths due to radiation poisoning, cancers, and other health problems directly attributable to the disaster. The children of those exposed, and their children, have had horrible birth defects and cancers as a result of their exposure.
    Usually, Morris, your opinion pieces are not harmful in themselves, just your,opinion of matters of morals and politics and, gee, everyone is entitled to an opinion…but this? This is not a matter of opinion. This is a matter of scientific fact.

    There is nothing beneficial at all about the aftermath of Chernobyl.

    • Liege_Lord

      Well said Segue… “it’s even been suggested that endangered habitats be sprinkled with nuclear waste to keep humans at bay.” what does that even mean? We already have nuclear waste issues in rivers and landfills, it doesn’t keep people away, its not like humans smell radiation and go “EWWW! That smells im out of here!”… you don’t know your being irradiated until your kids are missing chromosomes and you have 3 tumors and a 2 different types of cancer.

      All the creatures in the Chernobyl area will have affected genes. That said, the humans which were exposed did get horrifically sick, so please show a little more repect and sensibility in future articles.

      This wasn’t a bad article… the fact that animals can even live there IS interesting, especially only 20 years after the incident. If you had kept it short and focused on that, it would have been good; however, for some reason you felt it important to try and highlight a nuclear disaster as a positive thing… it just makes you look foolish.
      Good luck next article sir, no disrepect intended (as I’m sure you didn’t mean to either).

  • Chester

    Actually the effects of radiation on the wildlife in Chernobyl and in europe are actually really prevelant, the disaster was catastrophic and the effects will last for generations to come..Maybe this author should put some more research into his trappings rather than just make shit up. Just because wildlife flourishes doesnt mean that the heavy radiation fallout caused by the reactor isnt messing them up geneticly.

    • iamtherealgumby

      The inbreeding is strong in this one, even with auto-correct the stupid still shines…
      Sphincter said what?

      • Chester

        Lol your my parasitic twin hanging off my sphincter constantly saying What! I love it 😉

        • iamtherealgumby

          Sphincter said what?

  • Amanda C Owens

    The Demilitarized Zone between N & S Korea is also a “sanctuary” for wildlife. It sounds trite and twee, but looks like a little good came from conflict and accidents.

    • Chester

      noooot really theres so many landmines in between.

      • Amanda C Owens

        Umm….it’s actually a pretty well-known fact that the DMZ is home to a nice-sized wildlife population, even some endangered species.

        • Chester

          i wasnt debating your statement on the wildlife i was debating your statement that a little good came from conflicts/accidents. The DMZ is a fortress with 100’s of thousands of landmines and booby traps, and just because some tigers frolic in between doesnt make it a nice place, im sure more than a couple of animals die from landmines every year not to mention mortar rounds and artillery thats constantly being pumped in there.

  • J_Doe5686

    I’ve always being fascinated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Because of what happened afterwards: life bloomed all over again!