April 28, 2014 5:24 pm

Toronto Zoo reproductive program helps protect endangered species

TORONTO–Spring has arrived and so have many infant animals at the Toronto Zoo.  But unbeknownst to many, some have had the help of a paid employee of the zoo.

“I’m involved in the helping animals breed and making babies and that is important for genetic conservation of species not only for today, but into the future,” Dr. Gaby Mastromonaco, a curator of reproductive programs at the Toronto Zoo said.

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Part of Mastromonaco’s job is to ensure domestic and non-domestic animal populations are kept at a healthy level. He said the zoo’s reproduction practices are increasing the protection of endangered species.

“To ensure that every female and male of the species has a baby, we bank that genetic material as insurance in case something happens later on,” he said.  “What a lot of people don’t realize is for everything you see up front, we are pounding the pavement behind-the-scenes.”

Dr. Bill Rapley, the zoo’s executive director of conservation said Mastromonaco’s job is making a huge different in the wildlife world.

“Dr. Gaby Mastromonaco is doing a tremendous job here,” Dr. Bill Rapley. “The fact that she can do this great work, freezing semen, working with cells and DNA is so important to the breeding of many species that are endangered in Canada and the zoo world.”

And it doesn’t stop there–while Mastromonaco and lab technicians are working to protect and preserve behind-the-scenes, there’s much to learn from a visitor’s perspective as well.

“We’re involved in all aspects, education, conservation,” Dr. Mastromonaco said.  “We’re teaching at all levels and  I think making an impact in many different ways.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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