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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March 2004, 08:24 GMT
Mission to save endangered snails
Bermudan land snail
Experts will study the snails' breeding and feeding habits
A colony of rare snails is settling into its new home at London Zoo as part of a mission to save the species from extinction.

The 56 Bermudan land snails were flown in after the native population fell to critically low levels.

The species, of which only 100 remain, is being driven to extinction by predatory snails and Argentine ants.

Experts at the Zoo in Regents Park will study the snails' breeding and feeding habits to develop a conservation plan.

The Bermuda Natural History Museum, which had been monitoring the snails, asked the zoo for help after numbers among the single surviving colony fell dramatically.

Island habitat

It is hoped they can establish a 'safety net' population which could be bred and later reintroduced into their island habitat.

To do this experts will study the snails to produce detailed information on their life history, breeding and feeding habits.

Paul Pearce-Kelly, Curator of Invertebrates at London Zoo, said "We were more than happy to get involved in such a critical project.

"We've had a lot of success and experience breeding a Polynesian snail called Partula and so we can use that knowledge to help the Bermudan species and hopefully help re-establish them in the wild."

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