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Giant African Land Snails to Invade Miami-Dade Movie Theaters

April 26, 2013

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If you are a cinema fan in Miami-Dade County, you may get a bonus beginning Friday when you visit a local movie theater — a close-up and scary view of the giant African land snail, or GALS, styled after a trailer for a classic 50s-era horror movie. Giant African land snails may be a horror, but they’re not a fantasy. Discovered in Miami-Dade County in the fall of 2011, it has some truly terrifying implications for the South Florida environment. It can grow to eight inches in length (think “rat-sized”), consumes more than 500 types of plant and can carry the rat lungworm, which can cause a form of meningitis in humans. It even eats stucco on buildings, while leaving a nasty snail-trail.

Beginning April 26, the dramatic public service announcements will precede feature movies at Miami Dolphin 19 with IMAX, Miami Kendall Village Stadium 16, Miami Lakes 17 Cinemas and Miami Movies at the Falls 12. Similar ads appeared in those theaters last summer.

You can view the trailer here.

Inspectors continue to respond to reports from the public, collecting the snails and applying bait in areas where snails are detected. Many of the captures in the 20 core areas resulted from calls made by the public to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry (FDACS/DPI) Helpline, 1-888-397-1517. Core areas consist of properties within a one-half mile radius of a positive giant African land snail find.

snailbucket

Snails collected by FDACS/DPI inspectors in Miami-Dade County.

Public awareness increasing, world-wide

During the past two weeks the giant African land snail has been the subject of intense, world-wide media coverage. The coverage followed a symposium held in Gainesville, Fla. where agriculture officials, scientists and other experts reviewed progress toward eradication of the GALS and considered ways the eradication campaign could be made even more effective.

After the story was picked up by Reuters, the snail and the efforts to eradicate it from Miami-Dade County was reported on in weekly news magazines, by television and radio stations, by national and international networks and, of course, daily newspapers. CBS This Morning aired this story,  just this week. The coverage also gave a shot in the arm to FDACS/DPI’s social media efforts. For example, in just about 48 hours, visitors followed links from external media leading to about 80,000 additional views of DPI’s YouTube GALS videos.

The movie theater ads are part of a comprehensive community outreach campaign, which also includes billboards, bus signs, bus benches, newspaper advertisements and continuing media coverage in Miami-Dade.

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We welcome your comments on the GALS effort, as well as any suggestions you might have for further public outreach. If you have questions, please call the Helpline, 1-888-397-1517.

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