Temperature goes ultra low for animal health at Fossil Rim

Tye Chandler
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

It seems fitting that #WorldRefrigerationDay occurs in the summertime (June 26), and refrigeration and freezing are crucial to operations at Fossil Rim.

From whole blood to serum to animal feces to tissue samples and more, Veterinary Technician Allyssa Roberts requires the ultra-low freezer for many reasons.

The animal health department utilizes a freezer set at -80 degrees Celsius, or -112 Fahrenheit! Veterinary Technician Allyssa Roberts said the freezer typically has blood samples – whole blood, serum, and plasma, as well as animal feces, tissue samples, and swab samples.

“Whole blood is generally sent off overnight, but serum and animal feces are frozen and kept at -80 (Celsius) until shipping,” Dr. Holly Haefele added. “A freezer capable of this very low temperature is definitely best for medical samples. We bank samples for future projects, ongoing research projects, and disease investigation.

“Storing blood for genetic purposes is key to our department. For example, we are involved in ongoing black rhino research with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.”

For a number of reasons, domestic refrigerators and freezers don’t measure up to laboratory standards. Blood and plasma must be stored within tight temperature ranges to avoid loss of potency or spoilage, plus consider that sometimes valuable or irreplaceable biological specimens are being stored. Laboratory freezers are designed to maintain exact and constant temperature throughout all compartments.

Fossil Rim’s Animal Health Department requires a laboratory freezer that is set at -80 degrees Celsius.

Most domestic refrigerators have poor temperature recovery after the door has been opened. Plus, their temperature control dial is not precise enough. The cost involved due to improper storage of samples justifies the higher cost of the more precise and reliable lab freezers and refrigerators.

Although not requiring the same intensely low temperatures, the carnivore staff and Children’s Animal Center staff at Fossil Rim also need refrigeration and freezing of meats and other food items. The Overlook Café staff has similar requirements, although the food items are obviously for consumers of the human variety.