Endangered Snails Accidentally Frozen

Hundreds of rare giant land snails held in captivity in New Zealand froze to death after the temperature probes in their containers failed.

By | November 15, 2011

Powelliphanta snails, also known as amber snails, are endemic to New Zealand and have been categorized as endangered. FLICKR, JK AND ROCKY

A tragic fate befell 800 endangered giant land snails in New Zealand last week. After being snatched away from their native habitat in New Zealand’s South Island to make way for a coal mine, a faulty temperature gauge failed in the containment facility where they were being held, causing the temperatures to plummet and the snails to freeze to death.

The incident was very upsetting for the Department of Conservation’s staff, who were responsible for the livelihoods of around 6,000 snails taken from the coal-rich Stockton Plateau, BBC News reported. However, the Department has assured the local media that the technical problem has been fixed and that snail hatchlings born within the past year will at least partially ameliorate the biodiversity loss.

Nevertheless, environmentalists say the main problem is not the faulty equipment, but the displacement of species from their native habitats. "First, their natural home was destroyed for a coal mine on Stockton Plateau, and now they've died in captivity," Nicola Vallance of New Zealand's Forest and Bird organization, told BBC News. “Keeping our wildlife in fridges is obviously not how New Zealanders would like to care for native animals found nowhere else in the world.”

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