The baby snails giving hope to their species
You’re looking at something VERY special – the FIRST Desertas Island snails ever to hatch outside of their homeland, anywhere in the world!
And aren’t they TINY?! (Yes, that’s a 5p coin)
These snails were thought to have been EXTINCT for more than 100 years. But, our conservation friends in Portugal, where the snails live, have just rediscovered a small population still alive on an island in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Chester Zoo have joined a RESCUE MISSION to help save them… and these baby snails are a HUGE boost!
More than 1,200 of the snails, measuring 1mm, were hatched in a breeding scheme after they were threatened with extinction.
Two species of the Desertas Island land snail were flown from Portugal to zoos in Chester and Bristol in June.
Curator Dr Gerardo Garcia said it was an "incredible achievement".
Fewer than 300 of the invertebrates were found on rocky terrain on one of the Desertas islands, near Madeira, between 2012 and 2017.
The creatures were previously thought to have been extinct for about 100 years.
Portuguese conservationists closely monitored the snails and found numbers were "rapidly declining" due to predators on the island, Chester Zoo said.
About 60 were then flown to the UK, where specialists formed a recovery plan.
Chester Zoo said experts created special centres which replicated the snail's ideal breeding conditions.
Dr Garcia said: "Urgent action was required when only a handful of these special snails were found clinging on to survival.
"There was a lot of pressure to find answers quickly. It's an incredible achievement."
Dr Garcia said the breeding programme would provide a "sustainable future" for the snails.
A number of the creatures would be reintroduced to new locations in the Desertas islands, the zoo added.