On the 21st of May the first symposium ‘Zoo and Science’ from the Dutch Association of Zoos (NVD) took place in Burgers Zoo. The Animal Breeding and Genetics Group organized the morning session. During this session, two employees explained about the causes, consequences and prevention of inbreeding and the utilization of DNA information for the genetic conservation of zoo populations. Last Saturday, an article about this symposium was published in the scientific supplement of the NRC-Handelsblad newspaper.
The often unknown origin of zoo animals can be clarified through DNA-testing. With this information, inbreeding and cross-breeding of subspecies can be prevented. These conclusions were clarified during the symposium Zoo and Science on the 21st of May. During the morning session both Hans Komen and Mirthe Bosse from the Animal Breeding and Genetics group presented about these subjects. Hans Komen explained about the causes, consequences and prevention of inbreeding. He illustrated this using results from research on 15 deer species kept in European zoos. Mirthe Bosse closed the morning session with a presentation about the use of full genome sequence for the genetic conservation of zoo populations. With this sequence information the level of inbreeding can be determined, but also the effects of domestication.
Healthier zoo populations with DNA-research
With DNA-research, zoo populations could become healthier and resemble more like their wild counterparts. “It is really important that zoos start collection DNA-samples”, tells geneticist Hans Komen from Wageningen University. This applies to all kinds of species. From exotic animals like the Eld’s deer and the Visayan warty pig, to crowd pullers like the giraffe and chimpanzee.