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The Herbarium of the National University of Singapore was founded in 1955 by Prof. H. B. Gilliland, head of the Department of Botany at NUS from 1955-1965. Originally established to be a repository of teaching and voucher plant specimens, it has grown to become a large documentation of the rich plant resources of Singapore and Southeast Asia.
The herbarium and its acronym, SINU, is registered with the International Association of Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) and is listed officially in the 1990 edition of the Index Herbariorum published by the New York Botanical Garden for IAPT.
The Zoological Reference Collections (ZRC) has over a million zoological specimens belonging to at least 10,000 species and majority of the zoological specimens in the ZRC originate from Southeast Asia. Many groups of animals are very well represented in the ZRC. some of these among the best in the world, most of them irreplaceable and are priceless historical specimens.
Significant is the 150,000 specimens of Southeast Asian vertebrates, including one of the best Southeast Asian bird and freshwater fish collections internationally. The overall zoological collection, however, is actually much larger as there are thousands upon thousands of unsorted bottles and drums from numerous studies, expeditions, surveys and donations from throughout the region.