Essay

“You Must Collect Things for Reasons You Don’t Yet Understand.”

When it was founded in 1972, no one would have guessed that the ‘Frozen Zoo’, the largest animal cryobank in the world located at the San Diego Zoo in California, would serve a purpose, but as science became more complex, the important uses for the zoo were uncovered; the cells in the tissues that were stored in the zoo could be transformed into stem cells that could be used to save species, the cells could be cloned, and the cells could even help law enforcement!

One of the purposes the Frozen Zoo serves is that scientists can use the stem cells created from the cells and tissues to build any type of specialized cell to replace damaged or diseased cells, including brain cells, muscle cells, and nerve cells. An example is that scientists have used this special type of cell to form two much-needed northern white rhinoceros eggs, in hopes to save the critically endangered species close to demise.

Another use for all the tissues and cells that the zoo stores is cloningthe act of making exact genetic copies of a cell or organismincluding ongoing experiments with two endangered cattle species and a new generation of pheasants. This ability could be used to save endangered species on the cusp of extinction by cloning them.

Yet another way these cells have a purpose is to help law enforcement, providing a new way to identify primates and other animals that people hunt, trade, or smuggle illegally.  

The Frozen Zoo at first had no significant purpose for storing the animal tissues and cells at first, but as time went on and science grew more developed, the zoo found an important purpose in the preservation of these cells, even able to create an animal out of the cells, therefore able to assist animal species on the brink of extinction. An important purpose for a zoo that started with none.

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