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Future of Our Planet

Conservation Biobanking at Toronto Zoo

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Long-term storage of living genetic material in conservation biobanks provides wildlife population managers with additional tools to support species recovery initiatives.

Did you know that all wood bison born at your Toronto Zoo since 2009 were the result of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) and that the sperm used to create most of them were frozen and stored at -196 °C in our biobank?


In general, a biobank is a repository for the long-term storage of biological material. At your Toronto Zoo, the biobank is composed of cryogenically frozen living cells — including sperm, oocytes, embryos, and somatic cells — that can be used to produce offspring, such as the wood bison calves. 

Biobanking is a powerful tool for species conservation. As a signatory country to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, Canada committed to developing strategies to implement the four goals and 23 targets outlined in the framework aimed at addressing the biodiversity crisis we now face. One of the targets specifically calls for the need to maintain and restore genetic diversity, a fundamental requirement for healthy, thriving populations. Genetic preservation is one of the most impactful aspects of a biobank.

The vision of the biodiversity framework is a harmonious relationship between humans and nature by the year 2050. But until then, while we’re working to turn things around, biodiversity will continue to decline. With the addition of biobanking to the conservation toolbox, we can effectively slow the loss of genetic diversity, protect it until conditions are favourable, and reintroduce it when the time is right to build healthy, genetically diverse populations. 

Head to wildlifeconservancy.ca to support conservation efforts at your Toronto Zoo.

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