It’s heartbreaking to hear of one more species that’s under threat or, much worse yet, extinct. Now, there may be hope in the form of a Frozen Zoo.
This isn’t science fiction. The Frozen Zoo, which is the brainchild of the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, is the world’s largest animal cryobank. For over 40 years, the institute has collected samples from more than a thousand different species. Bits of tissue are then transformed into eggs and sperm, which are frozen and stored at minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit to be available for future use. Samples have also been used to identify meat from poached animals and to deepen the gene pool in certain species.
The ultimate goal is for each vial of cells in the Frozen Zoo to provide a lifeline that tethers a species’ existence to the world.