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Chester Zoo cryogenically freezes the cells of the world’s rarest animals to save them from extinction

Chester Zoo cryogenically freezes the cells of the world’s rarest animals to -196°C to save hundreds of species from extinction

  • Scientists at Chester Zoo are freezing animal cells to save them from extinction
  • Conservationists have founded living biobanks dedicated to preserving cells.
  • Small samples of tissue are taken from the ovaries, testicles, and ears of animals that have died.

A British zoo is cryogenically freezing tissue from the world’s rarest animals to -196°C to save hundreds of species from extinction.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have teamed up with some of the UK’s leading animal reproduction experts to freeze cells from some of the planet’s most precious animals using liquid nitrogen.

Chester Zoo scientists and reproductive experts have together founded ‘Nature’s SAFE’, one of Europe’s largest living biobanks dedicated to preserving and regenerating the cells of the planet’s most precious animals.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have teamed up with some of the UK's leading animal reproduction experts to freeze cells from some of the planet's most precious animals using liquid nitrogen.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have teamed up with some of the UK’s leading animal reproduction experts to freeze cells from some of the planet’s most precious animals using liquid nitrogen.

Small tissue samples are taken from the ovaries, testicles and ears of deceased animals at the zoo and, using state-of-the-art technologies, are frozen in liquid nitrogen.

Scientists say that in the future, as reproductive technologies advance, frozen tissue samples may be used to conserve more species globally by generating sperm and eggs, so that conservationists can restore lost genetic diversity. in animal species threatened with extinction.

The frozen living biobank has already cryopreserved cells from more than 100 highly endangered animal species, including the critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros, mountain chicken frog, Javan green magpie and jaguar.

Dr Sue Walker, Head of Science at Chester Zoo and co-founder of Nature’s SAFE, said: “With ever-decreasing gene pools and animal populations in the wild, the work of modern conservation zoos like ours It has never been more important.”

“Technologies such as cryopreservation offer us a critical new piece of the conservation puzzle and help us provide protection for many of the world’s animals that we are sadly on our way to losing right now.”

Nature’s SAFE now houses biological tissue samples from some of the most endangered species on the planet, providing a vital insurance policy for threatened wildlife so it can be protected for generations to come.

Tullis Matson, President and Founder of Nature’s SAFE, said: “Without Nature’s SAFE, for many species already on the brink of extinction, there will be no return.”

‘With Nature’s SAFE and other biobank partners, there is optimism. We know that the sixth mass extinction on Earth is underway and that difficult times are ahead.

‘The question is what do we want to do about it? And our answer is: we want to secure future options for biodiversity, by acting now.’

Dr Veronica Cowl, Reproductive Biology Coordinator at Chester Zoo and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), said: “We have been working to understand reproduction in the elusive Owston’s Civet for over three years, and it is fantastic that we can now preserve the genes of the current zoo population in Nature’s SAFE, The Living Biobank.

“This is a huge step forward in our work to prevent the extinction of this beautiful species, and it’s a pleasure to work with such a passionate group of people.”

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