A biobank is a ‘library’ or repository in which biological samples are stored for use in research and conservation. To date, samples in biobanks have helped us gain novel insights into the genetic component of disease, ultimately leading to a more personalized approach to health care. Biobanks can also include samples that can be used in artificial insemination and to assist in preserving genetic diversity in ex situ populations. They are a valuable resource for animal conservation by assisting in the sustainability of small populations and in some cases providing a barrier from a species’ extinction.
African Lion Safari processes and preserves DNA, tissue, and cell samples from multiple species. We utilize multiple methods of preserving samples, including -20-degree Celsius freezers and liquid nitrogen tanks (cryopreservation). It has become an essential and important resource in our conservation programmes and research projects.
Within our Asian elephant conservation programme, our biobank dates back over 30 years containing thousands of samples. These samples have led to some amazing research discoveries, analysis, and groundwork on some of the health issues elephants face, such as Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV).
African Lion Safari is working collaboratively with various academic and non-government conservation organizations to develop assisted reproductive techniques including gamete/semen cryopreservation methods. Ultimately, we hope to develop a method for gamete rescue from snake carcass.
African Lion Safari is a partnering with Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Pollinator initiative. In addition to hosting their bee facility on site, we have undertaken research to develop assisted reproductive methods for bees. Our ground-breaking work is modelled after research on honey bees – which, unlike bumblebees, are not native to Canada.
African Lion Safari welcomed the first & second giraffe calves in the world to be conceived by artificial insemination using frozen semen. These births are incredibly significant as we are able to conserve the valuable genetics of our giraffe population through biobanking to contribute to conservation efforts both locally and globally.