Zoo fights to save lots of species from extinction by cryogenically freezing genetic samples

A zoo in southwest England is aiming to save lots of a few of the world’s most endangered species from extinction by cryogenically freezing tissue and reproductive cell samples, with the intention of serving to at-risk animals breed sooner or later.

Paignton Zoo in Devon has partnered with Nature’s SAFE, one in every of Europe’s first “residing biobanks”, to course of and retailer the endangered creatures’ samples in a residing state at -196C.

Every pattern is tissue that may in any other case be thrown away and is collected from animals that die or are neutered in zoos.

The approach particularly targets the genetic codes of animals which might be disappearing from the planet, with Shropshire-based Nature’s SAFE holding materials from greater than 80 species.

One methodology sees the extraction of sperm cells post-castration of the animal, which then bear specialised and species-specific processing to allow cryopreservation.

Researchers are additionally investigating methods to gather mature egg cells from ovaries to permit feminine reproductive cell preservation.

The animals cryogenically preserved embody the mouse deer, Colombian black spider monkey and the panther chameleon.

Nature’s SAFE is already working in collaboration with Chester Zoo and The Rhino Fertility Undertaking on the College of Oxford, and is supported by the European Affiliation of Zoos and Aquaria Biobank.

“The challenges we face in species conservation imply now we have to be revolutionary and ahead considering”, mentioned Dr Kirsten Pullen, chief science officer at Wild Planet Belief, a conservation charity which contains Paignton Zoo.

“Whereas we proceed our efforts in captive breeding and conservation initiatives, working with Nature’s SAFE offers us an thrilling alternative to develop one other device to realize our purpose of halting species decline.”

Dr Rhiannon Bolton, Nature’s SAFE co-founder and charity coordinator, mentioned: “With so many animals prone to extinction, collaboration to realize a standard purpose is important. This new partnership will allow us to save lots of much more animals from extinction.”

Tullis Matson, one other of Nature’s SAFE co-founders, told Sky News the approach might permit scientists to carry the samples again to life in “10, 20, 30, 1,000 years’ time”.

“In principle, in years to come back, we are able to flip that pores and skin pattern right into a sperm and an egg, which is kind of unimaginable,” he mentioned.

“However the science is shifting at such a price, if we do not freeze it now, we have misplaced these species endlessly.”

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