Rare creatures to be zoo’s new features

Ross Poulter with a White's tree frog
Ross Poulter with a White's tree frog
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THEY are among the rarest creatures on the planet, and have never been seen before in the Capital.

Given their size, visitors to a new exhibition at Edinburgh Zoo may have to look hard to spot the weird and wonderful animals. The creatures are part of a new exhibit featuring rare cannibal snails and cooing tortoises.

A dozen species, nine of which have never been shown at the attraction before, will be displayed in a newly created section of the recently launched Brilliant Birds display.

New animals include the small and rare Partula tree snails – which are close to extinction in the wild – as well as sun beetles from Africa, highly toxic phantasmal poison frogs, and the bright and carnivorous Rosy wolf snails, which eat other snails.

Partula snails are originally from the French Polynesia islands in the South Pacific. It is estimated that 72 species of Partula snail existed, 56 of which are now extinct.

The Phantasmal poison frogs are a tiny species of poison dart frog from the Andean slopes of the central Ecuadorian Bolivar province, and have one of the strongest toxins found in frogs.

Other species include Madagascan hissing cockroaches, a Nelson’s milksnake, White’s tree frogs and yellow footed tortoises, which make a distinctive raspy cooing sound.

The fresh collection of vertebrates, invertebrates and amphibians is set to go on show at the end of the week.

In a fortnight, a colony of Leafcutter ants will be added to the exhibition, with their giant nest providing the centrepiece of the new section. Visitors will be able to watch an army of workers carry food to the nest.

Keeper Ross Poulter explained that six of the species had previously been kept off-show at the zoo and that three were entirely new.

He said: “Three species – the Nelson’s milksnake, Rosy wolf snails and the sun beetles – are new to the zoo, while the others have been off-show or have been on display elsewhere.

“Some were not on display as we just didn’t have the space. The Partula snails are mostly extinct and only a few zoos in Europe have these. ”

Hugh Roberts, zoo chief executive, said: “The new zone is full of bright and beautiful creatures, so it sits very naturally next to the Brilliant Birds – although some of the newest arrivals are much more deadly.”

vraimes@edinburghnews.com