Whipsnade Zoo snails move to new Pacific island home

Hundreds of extinct-in-the-wild snails bred in British zoos have been flown to their new French Polynesian residence.

Whipsnade Zoo’s invertebrate specialist Tyrone Capel has this week launched 1,600 of the fingernail-sized snails onto the volcanic island of Moorea.

Partula snails, which develop to about 2cm, travelled on a 22-hour-flight packaged in tissue in cardboard tubes.

Most of the species being reintroduced from the Bedfordshire zoo vanished from the wild over 30 years in the past.

The Snail Conservation Programme is coordinated by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and French Polynesia’s Course de l’environnement.

Within the Nineties the Rosy wolf snail was launched onto the islands in French Polynesia to regulate the beforehand launched large African land snail.

The moved backfired because the carnivorous predator most well-liked the Partula tree snails, leaving them exctinct on the islands.


Now complete of two,194 snails have been bred at Whipsnade Zoo, London Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo and Bristol Zoo Challenge.

“That is the head of my profession,” snail specialist Mr Capel stated.

“After I was a baby, I dreamt of serving to to save lots of a species from extinction – now that dream is changing into a actuality.”

Partula snails

Mr Capel stated the snails have additionally been an enormous loss for Polynesian tradition, because the shells have been utilized in cultural artefacts

Greater than 24,000 Partula snails have been reintroduced by conservationists onto the French Polynesian islands.

Mr Capel and his staff have launched extra then 1,600 Moorean snails into the forests of Moorea.

The remaining 550 snails can be launched to the neighbouring islands of Huahine, and Tahiti.

Mr Capel stated snail releases have been “very gradual” however added it was “unimaginable to observe them steadily propel themselves up into their pure tree habitat”.

“All of the laborious work getting them there was price it for that second.”

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