HONOLULU - 72 rare land snails raised at the Honolulu Zoo were released into protected habitat in the Wai'anae Mountains.

The Snail Extinction Prevention Program helped release the Amastra cylindrica species, as the snails are 'a component of the functioning forest ecosystem.'

"The Honolulu Zoo is excited to expand our program with the DLNR-SEPP in saving native endemic Hawaiian species from extinction, and to educate the public about the impacts of invasive species on fragile island ecosystems,” said Laura Debnar, Animal Specialist at the Honolulu Zoo.

Land snails are one of the first species said to go extinct due to predators like rats and Jackson's chameleons, or weather-related issues.

"They’re vulnerable to a lot of different factors and so in that sense we can use them to identify a healthy forest and we can also use them to identify a forest that is experiencing detrimental impacts from invasive species or climate change," said David Sischo, DLNR - SEPP Coordinator.

The Amastra cylindrica species cannot be fount anywhere else in the world -- only on the island of O'ahu.