Beijing's 'Frozen Zoo' sperm bank seeks to save endangered animals

Updated 2016-12-28 09:22:35 Global Times

The Beijing Zoo has created a sperm bank for endangered animals in the hopes of preventing their extinction.

Workers at the 'Frozen Zoo' rush to collect sperm from animals immediately after they die so that they can be preserved in liquid nitrogen for later use.

"Once the animal dies, veterinarians inform zoo laboratory technicians as soon as possible to collect samples," said an zoo employee at a conference Friday.

So far zoo employees have successfully collected semen from a panda, a golden monkey, a white crane and a black-necked crane.

Only a tiger at the zoo failed to produce viable samples due to its advanced age.

"We periodically thaw the samples to check their vitality and condition," said the employee.

The zoo has yet to use the collected frozen sperm for artificial insemination, opting for samples from living animals, the employee said.

The Beijing Zoo joins a number of zoos across the world with sperm banks for endangered animals.

Over 40 years, the San Diego Zoo in California, U.S. has collected more than 10,000 organic samples from over 1,000 different species.

In Japan, the Kyoto Zoo and Kyoto University opened a similar operation in 2013, that uses a special method to freeze dry sperm for later use.

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