Animals Endangered Species Meet the Woman Who Saved the Icelandic Goat From Extinction By Ben Bolton Writer University of Georgia Ben Bolton has covered athletics for several universities. He has since embarked on a career as a digital editor, creating media campaigns for major brands. our editorial process Ben Bolton Updated September 05, 2018 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Animals Wildlife Pets Animal Rights Endangered Species The Icelandic goat has been on the verge of extinction for years. Their population fell below 100 animals worldwide in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Luckily, Johanna Thorvaldsdottir made it her mission to save the species just over 16 years ago. In 1999, she was given a chance to adopt what were thought to be the last four brown hornless Icelandic goats on Earth. Before then, she had only raised animals like sheep and chickens on her farm, called Haafell. Thorvaldsdottir took it upon herself to convert Haafell into a breeding farm for the Icelandic goat to restore the population. Brought over to Iceland by the Vikings hundreds of years ago, the Icelandic goat produced exquisite cashmere. However, they quickly fell out of popularity as other sheep provided more fatty meat and wool. Fast-forward many decades and the Icelandic goat was almost gone. Thorvaldsdottir worked to find the best breeding practices to recover the population, while also figuring out ways to maintain the finances for the venture. She began making products like jams, cheeses, soaps, strings and more from the goats' milk and hair. She also began working with other breeders to help broaden the population. However, financial troubles in Iceland spread to Haafell around 2010. Thorvaldsdottir was facing foreclosure, and potentially the end of her mission and the Icelandic goat. Just when she thought it was all over, HBO's "Game of Thrones" asked to use her goats during filming. Once the episode aired, she launched a fundraising campaign on the internet to donate money to save the goats. The fans of the massively popular show found out, and Thorvaldsdottir saw her funds — and her farms' popularity — grow. During peak tourism season, she regularly gives tours to dozens of people a week, showing off the goats, Haafell and the areas where "Game of Thrones" was filmed. Now, there are roughly 600 to 800 Icelandic goats in existence, largely due to the commitment Thorvaldsdottir made years ago and an appearance on one of the biggest television shows of the decade.