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Frozen Ark project launches

27 July 2004

Yellow seahorse (Hippocampus kuda)

Frozen Ark, the world's first DNA bank to preserve endangered animals is launched.

  • The Frozen Ark will collect, preserve and store DNA and tissue samples from animals in danger of extinction
  • It will be the world's first DNA bank dedicated to all the world's endangered animals
  • It will be a global reference collection for research and conservation

Within the next 30 years 1,130 species (24%) of mammals and 1,183 species (12%) of birds are expected to disappear, along with their genetic material and any chance of future scientific research on them. 

Polynesian tree snails (Partula)
Priority species

This new project will collect DNA samples from all kinds of species and freeze them at minus 80°c. Priority will be given to species most in danger of extinction and the first seriously endangered animals to enter the Frozen Ark will be the Yellow seahorse, Scimitar horned oryx, Socorro dove and Polynesian tree snails .

‘Natural catastrophes apart, the current rate of animal loss is the greatest in the history of the Earth and the fate of animal species is desperate’, said Prof Phil Rainbow, Keeper of Zoology at the Natural History Museum.

‘Progress in molecular biology has been so fast that we cannot predict what extraordinary things may be possible in the next few decades. For future biologists and conservationists and for the animals they seek to protect this global network will be of immeasurable value.’

Scimitar horned oryx (Oryx dammah)

The Frozen Ark is supported by the Natural History Museum, the Zoological Society of London and the Institute of Genetics at the University of Nottingham , and will have duplicate specimens located in other institutions across the world as an insurance against damage or loss.

Further Information

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