Baby squirrel monkeys at the San Diego Zoo. Photo credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
Lots of monkeying around happening at the San Diego Zoo these days! The zoo is celebrating the birth of four baby monkeys: two squirrel monkeys – one born Nov. 27 and one born Nov. 28, a Schmidt’ red-tailed monkey born Nov. 11, and a DeBrazza’s monkey born Oct. 28.
The babies and mamas are doing well, and guests to the zoo can now view them in their habitats.
The sunflower sea star is now critically endangered due to a mysterious illness called sea star wasting syndrome. But researchers have made a breakthrough for their recovery. Photo credit: Marco Mazza/Courtesy of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
A mysterious disease called sea star wasting syndrome decimated 95% of the sunflower sea star population in 2013. Since then scientists have been working to learn more about the disease and figure out ways to save the sunflower sea star from extinction.
For the first time, researchers with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s reproductive sciences team, in collaboration with Sunflower Star Laboratory and Dr. Jason Hodin, senior scientist at Friday Harbor Laboratories were able to hatch dozens of baby sunflower sea stars using cryopreservation technology.
Cryopreservation is the process by which live tissues and cells are frozen in order to keep them for an extended amount of time. In this case, the researchers successfully froze sunflower sea star sperm, thawed it and fertilized eggs that developed into larvae.
According to Nicole Ravida, laboratory manager for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, “Cryopreservation is one method reproductive scientists can contribute to the preservation of gene diversity in sunflower sea star populations.”
The researchers believe maintaining gene diversity is the best way for sea stars to adapt to future stressors.