Monkeys at the Barcelona Zoo, Source: Ajuntament de Barcelona

Barcelona to get a ‘frozen zoo’

Barcelona to get a ‘frozen zoo’

The project will be the first of its kind in continental Europe

Barcelona’s municipal website announced on 20 December that a new project, called Biobank and aimed at the conservation of endangered animal species, is in the works in line with the objectives for a new model of the Barcelona Zoo. The initiative is modelled on the so-called Frozen Zoo, a repository of biological material from animals (and plants) stored at very low temperatures of −196 °C, which has been in existence in San Diego (USA) since the 1960s.

What are the purposes of the ‘frozen zoo’?

Preserving genetic biomaterial from animals that are threatened by extinction is a contemporary and more radical approach to the preservation and conservation of biodiversity. Material stored this way can last pretty much indefinitely and can be used for artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, embryo transfers and even cloning. In a way, it can ensure that we will not lose any more animal species by preserving their original genome.

In addition to conservation, the project has two other objectives: to facilitate genetic and genomic research of animals in a less invasive and more sustainable way and to efficiently homogenize tissue and cell samples in order to facilitate responsible use.

The project was born with the intention of being the European equivalent of the American institution Frozen Zoo, a pioneer in this field since it was created in the 1960s, and recognized worldwide. It has the largest collection in the world of cell lines (about 10,000) and species (more than 900).

The Biobank will have two headquarters. One will be at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE) and the other at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Already back in 2003, The UAB began the conservation of dead tissues of animals, which are of interest to the Zoo, for use in research studies. The new initiative is meant as a continuation of the spirit of that activity.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU