10,800 tiny snails make their way back to Bermuda from near-extinction

In total, 10,800 tropical snails bred by conservationists at Chester Zoo have been flown over 4,800 kilometers from the UK to Bermuda to boost wild population. This included 800 lesser Bermuda snails, which have been extinct in the wild for more than 15 years.

This conservation programme has successfully prevented the extinction of two species, lesser Bermuda snails and greater Bermuda snails.

The 800 "lesser Bermuda snails" have been given a new lease of life after being bred and reared by the zoo's invertebrate specialists.

It's the first time lesser snails have been returned to the wild after the earlier successful reintroduction of greater snails.

Feared to have vanished from the wild altogether, the species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and experts say that the last live individuals were seen in Bermuda more than 15 years ago.

The move to recover the species comes after 18,000 greater Bermuda snails -- a close relative of the lesser Bermuda snail -- were successfully reintroduced last year by conservationists from Chester Zoo and the Bermudian government.

Now, a further 10,000 greater Bermuda snails have also been sent back to Bermuda to boost their number and distribution across the Oceanic islands.

It's the first time the two species of snails have ever been reintroduced as part of a conservation breeding and release program in Bermuda.

Gerardo Garcia, the zoo's Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates, said: "It's an unbelievable feeling to be able to say that we've successfully prevented the extinction of two incredibly important snails."