SAVE OUR SPECIES
1 THE FROZEN ZOO
At San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, scientists have created a ‘frozen zoo’ of cells and embryos from endangered and extinct species. As the largest, most diverse collection of its kind, the initiative seeks to preserve the world’s biodiversity in cellular form, and provide material for research and conservation projects. Attempts to rescue the northern white rhino, of which there are just three left, focus on sperm samples stored at the zoo.
2 GENETIC MODIFICATION
The endangered black-footed ferret could become the first wild animal to have its DNA deliberately altered. The species suffers from inbreeding and sylvatic plague, which threaten its existence. Scientists from Revive & Restore, a US non-profit organisation pioneering the use of genetics in conservation, want to edit its genome to make it disease-resistant, and clone ferrets from the cells of dead individuals to restore genetic diversity.
3 GENOME LIBRARIES
The kkp is a flightless parrot endemic to New Zealand. Decimated by invasive species, the 151 birds alive today are the focus of a conservation programme. They live on predator-free islands, where they are monitored and breeding is managed. Some birds are artificially inseminated, and chicks are sometimes fostered by experienced kkp mothers. The genome of every living kkp is being decoded in an effort to guide future conservation.