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The Frozen Zoo stockpiles biological materials from a wide variety of rare and critically endangered species. The biological material is composed of gametes (sperm and oocytes), embryos, tissue samples (cell lines), serum and other items. It represents a genetic bank vault, an archive of irreplaceable genetic information that can be preserved for perhaps hundreds of years. Our material is stored in specialized holding tanks filled with liquid nitrogen. If a species nears extinction and their genetics are lost, some samples can be thawed and using assisted reproductive techniques we can produce an offspring. The new offspring replaces the lost genetic diversity and ensures the long-term survival of the species. We can actually keep a species from extinction!
How much genetic material is in the frozen zoo?
The Research Center's frozen zoo currently holds cryopreserved (frozen) semen from a number of animals such as: gorilla, Sumatran tiger, jaguar, Jabiru stork, Mississippi sandhill crane, mountain bongo antelope, eland antelope, gaur, African wildcat, caracal, as well as domestic cattle, dog and cats. In vitro-produced tiger, African wildcat, serval, caracal and other endangered cat embryos are also stored at the Frozen Zoo. A variety of antelope (bongo, eland), and cattle embryos are also present. African and Asian elephants, Baird's tapir, colobus monkey, lion, jaguar, gaur, roan antelope, bongo antelope, black bear, tompson gazelle, giant eland, nyala, serval, fishing cat, cape buffalo are just a few examples of the gametes and tissue samples in our expanding collection.
How long can frozen genetic material be stored?
Indefinitely. Banked germplasm and tissues can be used long into the future. It has been documented that cattle sperm cryopreserved for almost four decades still retains its fertilization capacity.
How cold is the frozen zoo?
-196°C or -373°F.
How many frozen zoos are there?
There are less than a dozen frozen zoos worldwide.