ROYAL OAK — Nearly 100 Partula nodosa snails bred at the Detroit Zoo are en route to Tahiti, effectively restoring a population that was extinct in the wild. For three decades, the Detroit Zoological Society has been breeding this species of Tahitian land snail as part of a collaborative effort credited with saving the species from extinction.
“Our efforts and successful breeding of the snails resulted in the rescue and recovery of the species,” says Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer. “Currently there are 6,000 individuals living in North America zoos, all descendants from the Detroit Zoo’s original small group.”
The work began in 1989 as a project with 115 snails of five species, with the DZS concentrating its efforts on this one species and engaging other institutions to focus on the remaining four. At one point, all the Partula nodosa in the world lived at the Detroit Zoo.
Before complete extinction, Partula nodosa snails were placed at several zoos including the Detroit Zoo, where they have been maintained off exhibit in a carefully controlled environment.
“With the sufficient growth of the captive population and the establishment of a protected area on Tahiti, this species is officially on the road to being saved,” Carter says.