ScienCentral News
environment general science genetics health and medicine space technology February 23, 2003 
home NOVA News Minutes archive login

is a production of
ScienCentral, Inc.
Making Sense of Science

Also of Interest
Lysins To Kill (video)

Anger Gene (video)

Models of Health (video)

Maternal Separation (video)

Modified Mosquitoes (video)

Worm Fat (video)

Infector Detector (video)

Dying To Be Thin (video)

Barflies (video)

Cloned Child (video)

Stress and Socializing (video)

Of Mouse and Man (video)

Egg Regs (video)

Clone Quirks? (video)

Human Cloning - The Ethics (video)

NOVA News Minutes
Visit the NOVA News Minutes archive.
ScienCentral News and Nature
Nature genome promo logo
Don’t miss Enter the Genomeó
our collaboration with Nature.
Best of the Web!
Popular Science Best of the Web 2000
Selected one of Popular Science’s 50 Best of the Web.
Get Email Updates
Write to us and we will send you an email when a new feature appears on the site.
Animal Archive (video)
May 22, 2001

Also on ScienCentral News

Cloning Fido - With the recent advances in genetics resulting from the cloning of the sheep, Dolly, we may soon be able to copy our pets. (3/23/2000)

Cloning Youth - Scientists announced a major step in refining the process of cloning. They say they’ve solved the problem of premature aging. (4/27/2000)

Frozen Zoo - To preserve genetic diversity, scientists are freezing cells from endangered animals. One zoo is even trying to clone a lion. (11/20/1998)

Elsewhere on the web

Bonobo Protection Fund at Georgia State University

American Museum of Natural History’s frozen tissue collection

The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species (ACRES)

Cincinnati Zoo Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW)

Smithsonian Conservation and Research Center

It’s a fact that animal species are fast disappearing because of human activity. But the San Diego Zoo is trying a different approach to save the animals.

As this ScienCentral News video report shows, they are trying to preserve their DNA and crack their genetic code.

Animal Archive

Most of the media’s attention to frozen zoos has focused on efforts to clone endangered or extinct species. In fact, the San Diego Zoo Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) provided the tissue used in the first-ever cloning of an endangered species. Noah the male gaur born in January, 2001, died within two days of his birth from an infection scientists say was not related to the cloning. The company that cloned Noah, Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. also has an agreement with the Spanish government to clone an already extinct species, the bucardo mountain goat.

Other highly-publicized candidates for cloning include the endangered Giant Panda and Australia’s extinct Tasmanian Tiger.

While some conservationists fear that cloning threatens to shift the focus away from habitat preservation, scientists involved in cloning efforts say habitat preservation remains all-important because just as with captive breeding programs, the objective is to return survivors to the wild. Advanced Cell’s CEO, Michael D. West , sees cloning as a real alternative to captive breeding when numbers in the wild get low. "The upside of captive breeding programs is that they take care of these animals and may increase their numbers," West said. "But you have to take the animal out of its natural habitat, and that’s exactly the opposite of what you want to be doing. Cloning opens the possibility of taking a small piece of tissue while preserving the animal in its environment."

Experts also point out that preserving tissues now so that they can be cloned in the future is not the sole purpose of frozen zoos. "The value of genetic resource collections cannot be overlooked," said Oliver Ryder, head of the CRES Genetics Department. "Although we may not be able to anticipate the future uses of collections of viable frozen cells and extracts of nucleic acids, access to these materials is more readily available now than will be the case in the future. What would the future ask us to be doing now?"

According to Ryder, genomic information is also important for assessing and monitoring populations of endangered species, for understanding extreme evolutionary adaptations (such as the Giant Panda’s specialized bamboo diet), and for animal health research including species-specific diagnostics and pharmacology.

by Joyce Gramza

About Search Login Help Webmaster
ScienCentral News is a production of ScienCentral, Inc.
in collaboration with the Center for Science and the Media.
248 West 35th St., 17th Fl., NY, NY 10001 USA (212) 244-9577.
The contents of these WWW sites © ScienCentral, 2000-2003. All rights reserved.
The views expressed in this website are not necessarily those of the NSF.
NOVA News Minutes and NOVA are registered trademarks of WGBH Educational Foundation and are being used under license.