Putting Endangered Species On Ice

National Park Service, American Museum of Natural History team up to cryogenically freeze threatened animals

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If you’re like me, you would shed serious tears if the iconic wildlife from our national parks were to go extinct. Luckily, the National Park Service has a backup plan: They’re teaming with the American Museum of Natural History to cryogenically freeze over 1 million tissue samples from endangered species in our national parks.

This giant DNA vault will provide scientists an opportunity to research techniques to prevent extinctions, as well as create a record of their genetic makeup in case they bite it anyway. The first animals to get in on this potentially life-saving gig are the Channel Island fox, the American crocodile, and the Hawaiian goose.

Ranked by national park, scientists will retrieve DNA from the most species at Golden Gate National Park (29 species), Point Reyes National Seashore (28 species), and Hawaii Volcanoes (27 species). In fact, nearly all of the preserved specimens will come from coastal parks in California, Florida, and Hawaii.

Scientists insist that cloning isn’t the goal behind this project, but why worry? If we want to build a park in the future full of extinct animals, I say we go for it. What’s the worst that could happen?

—Ted Alvarez

NPS creates DNA vault for endangered species (PlanetSave)