Scientists at University of Georgia’s Bioscience Center are building a frozen zoo in hopes of saving many endangered species. The scientists are specifically focusing on saving endangered big cats and white rhinos. Advanced technology allows scientists to extract stem cells from the skin of sedated animals. These stem cells are then turned into sperm or eggs where a surrogate of a similar breed can carry them. Scientists have successfully experimented on mice, pigs, and Sumatran tigers. Many big cats are at a point where they are breeding with their brothers and sisters because the gene pool has shrunk.
Scientists believe that genes are immortal. One could go 20, 30, 200 years, thaw stem cells, and still turn them into sperm or eggs. This research is being funded through interactive funding because scientists believe that this is a cause people will support and is being funded.
This technology is enabling scientists to save an multiple species of animals that would otherwise just vanish from the earth. Future generations will be able to see and experience animals that would otherwise be a distant memory. The earth is suffering and it is our job to figure out a way to help. This new technology is one way to prevent extinction. We can’t save animals as quickly as the environment is crumbling.
Many are frustrated with this approach though. Some believe scientists should be pouring the money into creating a better environment for the animals tat are still living as opposed to ‘cloning’ them and focusing on their deaths.
While there are arguments for both sides of this conversation, I believe this technological advancement will benefit society and science. There are approximately seven white rhinos left in the world. The Frozen Zoo contains cells from about thirteen rhinos; a larger gene pool than the currently surviving population. We are giving hope to animals that are dying off at alarming rates and cannot reproduce to save themselves quick enough.