Group launches effort to breed endangered species at zoos

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation is launching a fundraiser to support efforts to breed endangered animals at zoos around the country.

University of North Florida biology students are partnering with the group to help breed rare and endangered species at zoos around the country.

"If we don't save them, there won't be any left," said Laura Metrione, Ph.D. research associate. "And the other reason is quite simple and fundamental: You remove one little cog from the system and the system falls apart."

The alliance is a not-for-profit group based in Yulee, dedicated to keeping some of the planet's most endangered animals alive through reproductive science.

It's kicking off its "Adopt-a-Sperm" fundraiser at the university to maximize reproduction in threatened animals.

Meanwhile, in the lab on UNF's campus, "We are helping populations sustainability, which is ultimately going to help the endangered species in dire need right now," Metrione said.

Some researchers at UNF are studying hormone levels to determine when an animal is in the prime time to have a baby. At that point, they can move forward in mating the animals.

The program has been around since 2010 and continues to grow locally. The alliance helps the White Oak Conservation Center and Jacksonville Zoo.

UNF is the only university in the world that has a partnership with the program and has a working lab on its campus.

"Our students are learning cutting edge techniques for hormone analysis and some reproductive technologies, but they are also getting a chance to work with animals they wouldn't have the chance to without this partnership," said UNF professor Dan Moon.

To make a $10 donation, text SPERM to 91011. It will go to efforts to breed endangered animals at zoos around the country.

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