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Importing is the opposite of exporting: you are retrieving a creature saved to disk at an earlier date, and importing it into the game in the same state you saved it at. Creatures 1 has an import limitation: if the population is greater than 8, no more creatures can be imported into the world, and the option appears greyed out and unusable in the File menu. Recently-deceased creatures count towards this import limitation.
In the original Creatures, you had to beware of import shock - most breeders kept a backup copy just in case!