16 Apr 2010

Endangered French Polynesian snails breeding in British zoo

1:11 pm on 16 April 2010

The last known colony of a species of French Polynesian tree snail, decimated by so-called cannibal snails, has been entrusted to Bristol Zoo in Britain.

The centimetre-long Partula faba snails, which are extinct in the wild, hail from Raiatea in French Polynesia.

The zoo hopes to save the species, which is also threatened by invasive plants in its native habitat.

Its climate-controlled room is the only place in the world where the snails, which number 88, can be found.

The group has produced 15 young, with the smallest only 2mm long.

Invasive snails that were introduced to the French Polynesian islands in the 1970s decimated the tree snails.

Between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s, an estimated 80 percent of tree snail species were lost.