Snail that produces £30,000 pearls under tight security
An aquarium in Britain has splashed out on a painstaking security operation to protect one of its more unusual exhibits.
A giant sea snail is being closely guarded at Birmingham's National Sea Life Centre.
It can produce rare and valuable pearls which can fetch up to £30,000 each.
"These snails occasionally produce pearls which can fetch anything between £5,000 and £30,000 each," said curator Graham Burrows.
"The snail forms the pearl around any foreign object that gets inside its shell. The biggest one recorded was the size of a golf-ball."
The sea snail is about 20 times bigger than the British garden equivalent.
"Of course only a very few snails contain pearls, and the odds are very much against our snail having one," Mr Burrows said.
"With the prices they can fetch, however, we need to be extra vigilant to make sure no one is tempted to kidnap the snail in the hope that it contains hidden treasure.
"We've also got CCTV covering every possible access point when we're closed, as well as a sophisticated alarm system," Mr Burrows said.