DNA markings from Phoenix Zoo animals create unique shirts, art

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Darrin Grandmason swabs the tongue of Jambo the giraffe to collect DNA. By Jennifer Thomas Darrin Grandmason swabs the tongue of Jambo the giraffe to collect DNA. By Jennifer Thomas
The front of the Duchess T-shirt By Jennifer Thomas The front of the Duchess T-shirt By Jennifer Thomas
Darrin Grandmason swabs the tongue of Jambo the giraffe to collect DNA. By Jennifer Thomas Darrin Grandmason swabs the tongue of Jambo the giraffe to collect DNA. By Jennifer Thomas
Darrin Grandmason swabs the tongue of Jambo the giraffe to collect DNA. By Jennifer Thomas Darrin Grandmason swabs the tongue of Jambo the giraffe to collect DNA. By Jennifer Thomas
A keeper swabs the cheek of Indu, one of the Phoenix Zoo's Asian elephants. By Jennifer Thomas A keeper swabs the cheek of Indu, one of the Phoenix Zoo's Asian elephants. By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix-based company is using cutting-edge technology to help raise awareness about animals and fund conservation efforts of the Phoenix Zoo.

DNA on a SHIRT™ is using the DNA markings from several of the zoo's animals to create unique shirts, wall art and note cards.

The shirts and prints are designed to promote awareness about animals, some of which are endangered or threatened species, and to showcase how closely humans and animals are connected.

The DNA fingerprint and image rendering of a selected animal is featured on the front of the shirt and a graphic depicting the DNA percentage that humans share with each animal, as well as information about that animal, is on the back.
 
"When you wear this shirt, this art … you are a part of it," said Darrin Grandmason, founder of DNA on a SHIRT. "We share genes with every living thing on this planet. We have such an amazing abundance of life in this world, all different, yet inherently nearly the same."

Grandmason said his goal is "to connect us, to bring us together, to help us understand the bigger picture each of us uniquely plays in this world."

The Phoenix Zoo's first genetic-art shirt is in honor of Duchess, the beloved Bornean orangutan who died in June.

On Wednesday, Grandmason collected the DNA from a giraffe's tongue, which will be processed in the lab to create the design for a future shirt.

Other planned featured animals include an elephant, tiger, zebra and oryx from the Phoenix Zoo.

"We are excited about this cutting-edge art and technology that will allow people to make a connection with animals and the natural world," said Bert Castro, president and CEO of the Arizona Zoological Society/Phoenix Zoo.

"The concept of being able to see and wear the pattern of DNA belonging to one of our animals offers a unique platform for us to raise awareness about conservation and helping to preserve endangered species," Castro added.

The DNA ZOO TEES™ and DNA WALLABLE ZOO PRINTS™ can be purchased at www.indiegogo.com. The Phoenix Zoo will receive 20 percent of the sale of the shirts and prints, which will go toward the conservation efforts of the nonprofit zoo.