Frozen Zoos Are Genetic Archives For Hundreds Of Species

Zoos are controversial places. It's undeniably cool to see a real, live lion up close, shaggy mane and all. But it's sad to think this wild creature lives its life confined in an often too-small, fenced-in public arena. On the other hand, important research is conducted at zoos that ultimately helps species survive. But on the other, other hand... You get the idea. If you struggle with the idea of a traditional zoo, you may prefer to learn about frozen zoos. Frozen zoos are facilities that house the genetic materials of a variety of species and subspecies, and are used to help them stay around. Yay for saving animals!

The largest frozen zoo is inside California's San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Here, there are vacuum-sealed steel tanks that contain 10,000 individual samples. These samples represent about 1,000 species and subspecies—including one extinct species. The mission of the San Diego Frozen Zoo (and, likely, all the others around the world) is to preserve "a legacy of life on Earth." Frozen zoos could bring back animals from extinction (if they really wanted to). But from a less sensational angle, these zoos are working to conserve the species, big and small, we have here now. For example, they've helped breed the world's first caracal kittens, which you can watch in the video below. Seriously, watch the video. You need to see those kittens.

Inside A Frozen Zoo

There's nothing glamorous about the about the zoo, but just want until you see the test-tube caracal kittens...

How Frozen Zoos Are Helpful

In the face of extinction, some species may be saved thanks to the frozen zoo.

Is It Ethical To Bring Back Extinct Species?

Sure, it sounds fun, but the conversation doesn't end there.

Written by Curiosity Staff December 2, 2016

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