The wolves are exposed to cancer-causing radiation as they roam the wastelands of the abandoned city – with researchers finding part of their genetic information seems resilient to increased risk of the disease.
Mutant wolves roaming the deserted streets of Chernobyl appear to have developed resistance to cancer – raising hopes the findings can help scientists fight the disease in humans.
A nuclear reactor exploded at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine in 1986 – with more than 100,000 people evacuated from the city as the blast released cancer-causing radiation.
The area has remained eerily abandoned ever since, with the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) put in place to prevent people from entering a 1,000-square-mile area where the radiation still poses a cancer risk.
Humans may not have returned, but wildlife such as wolves and horses roam the wastelands of the evacuated city more than 35 years after the disaster.
Cara Love, an evolutionary biologist and ecotoxicologist at Princeton University in the US, has been studying how the Chernobyl wolves survive despite generations of exposure to radioactive particles.
Ms Love and a team of researchers visited the CEZ in 2014 and put radio collars on the wolves so that their movements could be monitored.
She said the collars give the team “real-time measurements of where [the wolves] are and how much [radiation] they are exposed to”.
They also took blood samples to understand how the wolves’ bodies respond to cancer-causing radiation.