Spermatology at London Zoo
Thursday 28 April 2005
Sperm comes in all shapes and sizes…….Visit London Zoo’s Spermatology exhibition from Saturday 30th April to discover what different sperm look like, swim like, how frozen sperm can help conserve a species, and of course, what distinguishes a good sperm from a bad sperm!
To highlight the important scientific research undertaken by the Institute of Zoology (IoZ) at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), London Zoo is displaying an image led, outdoor exhibition designed to raise awareness of the basics about sperm and how research in this area is helping to conserve some of the world’s most threatened species.
“The ‘Spermatology’ exhibition is a first for London Zoo and will explore this colourful area of research which is crucial for conservation” said Simon Rayner Head of Communications at London Zoo. “Visitors to the Zoo will discover that there really is a hidden tale behind the head and tail! No longer will you think of these little swimmers as mere tadpoles, but essential tools in animal conservation”.
Some of the areas that ‘Spermatology’ will examine include sperm appearance and size, did you know a tiny fruit fly has sperm which are 6cm long and that elephant sperm are the same size as that of a mouse? Or that the opossum has the record for the fastest sperm. Featuring the work of the IoZ, visitors to this intriguing exhibition will also discover that scientists store sperm in egg yolk, and preserve it by freeze-drying like coffee.
The exhibition will also highlight more conservation focused issues relevant to ZSL, such as how pollution can affect how sperm swim and how the IoZ track this swimming movement using computer models originally designed to monitor traffic in Sheffield!
Spermatology runs from 30th April to until August 2005 and is free to all Zoo visitors and all ages are welcome.
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Notes to editors
- Sperm from some insects (ants, bees) live for several years; the record is 29 years for species of ant.
- Human sperm is not very efficient compared to those of other species, they don’t swim vary fast, typically 20 seconds to travel 1 mm (compared to 3 seconds for Marsupials)
- Many insects have sperm with more than one tail
- Human sperm can swim for about 24 hours and fish about 1-2 hours
- The IoZ works on Gazelle sperm, other research projects in the reproductive biology group include work on bull, pig, cattle, sheep and zebra fish sperm.
- About the Zoological Society of London: Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity focusing on conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, and carries out scientific research through the Institute of Zoology as well as being actively involved in field conservation.
Clare Kingston - firstname.lastname@example.org - 020 7449 6361