Zoo keepers from four institutions, including the Saint Louis Zoo, have released thousands of tropical snails into their French Polynesian island homes. These snails were bred in various zoos in an effort to reintroduce several snail species, a few of which are extinct in the wild.
Partula snails once populated the South Pacific Islands, from Palau to the Society Islands, including Tahiti and Moorea. These snails, however, experienced a devastating decline when the predatory rosy wolf snails (Euglandina rosea) were introduced to the islands in the 1970s as a form of biological control. In the 1980s, scientists began to notice the rapid decline of Partula snails and zoos began to create ex situ (protecting a species outside its natural habitat) assurance populations.
The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute has provided funding for staff, equipment for field surveys, the construction and monitoring of predator exclusion reserves, and reintroduction efforts. This month, Saint Louis Zoo Zoological Manager of Invertebrates Kayla Garcia participated in the most recent reintroduction effort in Tahiti.
"I am incredibly proud of the successful collaboration and teamwork both in the field and at home that went into seeing Partula reintroduced back into the wild for the first time since 2019. This was a win for the ongoing conservation efforts of these highly endangered snails," said Kayla.
Read more: Zoological Society of London News Release