Playback: The Frozen Zoo
Play • 28 min

San Diego is home to the world’s first frozen zoo—a genetic library where scientists are racing to bank the tissues and stem cells of disappearing animals. As scientists begin to clone endangered species, we revisit an episode from our archives that delves into what conservation looks like, as we head into a period that some scientists believe is our next great extinction.

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More information about Elizabeth Ann, the cloned black-footed ferret can be found here.

National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale has covered conflict and nature. She was with Sudan when he died and she believes that the survival of creatures like the northern white rhino is intertwined with our own.

Move over, Noah. Joel Sartore is building his own ark — out of photographs. He’s on a decades-long mission to take portraits of more than 15,000 endangered species before it’s too late.  

Stuart Pimm has a lot more to say about species revival. In this editorial he makes a case against de-extinction — and explains why bringing back extinct creatures could do more harm than good. 

It’s been a long time since Jurassic Park hit theatres. Today, our revival technology straddles the line between science fact and science fiction — but do we want to go there?  

Also explore:

Read Kate Gammon’s original reporting for InsideScience, which inspired this conversation here at Overheard HQ. 

Want to dive further into the debate? Hear George Church’s talk — and talks by some of the greatest minds in conservation — at the TedxDeExtinction conference

The Frozen Zoo is working on a lot of exciting research that didn’t make it into the episode. For example, they’ve already managed to turn rhino skin cells into beating heart cells. To learn more about what they’re up to, check out the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research for yourself. 

Some of the most promising applications for the Frozen Zoo come from new technology that lets us turn one kind of cell into any other kind of cell. Read more about the first mouse that was created from skin cells.

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