Eventually, every animal in our care will reach the end of its life. Through the postmortem disease surveillance work of our Disease Investigations team, each of these animals provides an important window into the health of the population from which it came. A wide variety of samples are collected from each animal, and a large amount of information is generated, resulting in a unique archive of biological samples and research data. This information is shared with a broad audience internally and externally to help improve and maintain the health of wildlife. Our archives are of great historical and scientific value to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, as well as to conservationists and researchers around the world.

The core of our Pathology Archive is a collection of more than 600,000 microscope slides of tissue sections from more than 1,000 species, dating back to the late 1930s. The archive is the only one of its kind accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The archive also contains a growing collection of blood smears, cytology slides, frozen tissue samples, and digital photographs representing the more than 6,000 diagnostic procedures we conduct each year. This archive is used daily by our scientific staff, as well as students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scientists, resulting in over 100 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and several hundred scientific presentations over the last decade.

Although our museum collection policy generally prohibits consumptive uses of our tissue archive by outside researchers, prospective sampling for projects with high conservation value may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Information regarding biomaterials requests can be obtained by emailing our request coordinator:  BiomaterialsReviewGroup@sdzwa.org