Frozen zoo

less than 1 minute read

The Observer has a nice article describing the “Frozen Zoo” of samples kept by the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

Dr Oliver Ryder, the geneticist who heads the Frozen Zoo programme, welcomes the news of Loring's work, which itself built on a breakthrough in 2007 by Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka. For Ryder it is confirmation that the zoo's founding as a sort of "bet" on the science of the future now has great prospects of paying off. "We wondered if one day pigs would fly. Well, now pigs are flying. I am very excited by the results," Ryder says.

The impetus for the article is work that has induced pluripotent stem cells from skin samples held by the zoo. Of course they’re talking about the potential for cloning whole animals, which with a sample of more than 8000 individuals from many species is quite something. It would be worth archiving many more samples from wild individuals – even fecal samples might be sufficient in the future.