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In an attempt to explore the diversity of bacteria found in a range of species, the MSA took a trip to Artis Zoo in Amsterdam to collect some fecal samples.

 

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After viewing lots of possible candidates, we ended up collecting samples from the red ruffed lemur (native to Madagascar), the greater rhea (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,Paraguay, Uruguay, Germany), and the white-faced saki (Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela).

 

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Artis is a very open zoo- we were able to collect samples without having to ask for special access or permission. Just a small amount is needed to be able to sequence the DNA from the bacteria and see what’s in that monkey’s poop. Once the samples were collected, they were put in the freezer and finally shipped to the lab for analysis.

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There were some interesting candidates that would have been exciting to sample; however, due to some unfortunate circumstances (like the fact that they were behind bars, or perhaps infrequent defecators), it wasn’t possible on this trip. Maybe next time.

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A full MSA how-to guide with best practices, tips and tricks for stealth fecal sampling at the zoo can be found here.