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Israeli zoo creates DNA bank to secure preservation of endangered species

Rhinoceros and elephants are seen as the "charismatic" species that draw attention to the problem of poaching but are also the animals most targeted by poachers
TONY KARUMBA (AFP/File)
Genes will be able to last for 3000 years in hope that extinct animals can be resurrected on day

An Israeli safari park is teaming up with a leading German institute to create a DNA bank of endangered animals, in hopes that these animals could be resurrected if they go extinct, Israel's Ynet news site reported on Thursday.

The goal of the bank, which will be formed as a partnership by the Ramat Gan Safari in central Israel and "an advanced research institute in Germany," is to preserve the samples in a way that will make them last for about 3,000 years.

The DNA from the species in question will be extracted from tissue samples of animals which are sent to the Ramat Gan Safari for medical treatment.

The tissue and DNA samples will then be stored in a special on-site facility, being kept at a constant -196 degrees Celsius.

Even though there is currently no scientific way to resurrect animals using only their DNA samples, scientists wish to collect tissue samples today with the hope that in the future this would become possible.

The project will be headed by Safari Chief veterinarian Dr. Yigal Horowitz, who joined forces with Dr. Susan Holtz and other experts from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW).

Horowitz told Ynet that he hopes the project will soon take on biblical proportions, using the Noah's Arc as a metaphor for his endeavor.

“Noah collected the animals and saved them from extinction many years ago. I believe it is now our turn to do this,” he said.

“We are lucky that we have 4,000 different animals that receive treatment (in Ramat Gan) every year. We are sure that other zoos will join us and take part (in this initiative)."

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