A genetic Noah's Ark
To avoid the permanent disappearance of many endangered animal species, the Pairi Daiza Foundation and the veterinary biotech Revatis have joined forces to store a large number of biological samples.
As many animal species are threatened with extinction, several initiatives have been taken in recent years to create biobanks to store biological samples of these animals.
The Pairi Daiza Foundation has partnered with the veterinary biotech Revatis to this end. A spin-off of the Université de Liège, Revatis specialises in veterinary and human regenerative medicine and has developed a patented technique for the collection and production of stem cells to allow the regeneration of various organs.
The company, based in Marche-en-Famenne (province of Luxembourg), was the ideal partner for the Foundation of the famous Belgian zoo in Brugelette (province of Hainaut) for the development of a sort of modern Noah's Ark to collect the genetic heritage of wild animal species.
The first tests to collect stem cells from the park's animals have already begun. Based on a muscle microbiopsy of a few milligrams, the sampling technique causes virtually no discomfort to the animal, according to the project leaders.
In the very long term (we hope!), these stem cells could represent the last hope for species doomed to disappear. Embryos of these species could be formed from the stored stem cells if a population is reduced to the point that its subsistence is threatened.
This is a scenario that we still hope to avoid, of course!