The Snail Wrangler

Marla Coppolino is the Snail Wrangler in this National Geographic short film showcase about an illustrator’s efforts to save the land snail. Via the Cornell Chronicle:

By day, Marla Coppolino seeks companies to license and commercialize Cornell’s life sciences technologies for the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization.

But by night, she is one of only a handful of snail experts in the country and North America’s only “snail wrangler” who professionally manages snails for film and photography. Earlier this month she was featured on the Discovery Channel in Canada. She is also a research associate for two scientific institutions with various research projects underway and a budding entrepreneur who will soon have a line of snail products (T-shirts, iPhone covers, wall hangings).


On her four-acre Groton farm, Coppolino also cares for a donkey, three ducks, three guinea fowls, a cat and parakeet and more than 50 land snails.

“I have loved snails ever since I was 7 and discovered land snails in our suburban New Jersey backyard,” says the petite malacologist (mollusk expert). Watch Coppolino’s segment on The Big Q program on the Discovery Channel Canada at Coppolino is 4 minutes and 24 seconds into the clip.

After working at the American Museum of Natural History as a collections manager, overseeing 117,000 lots of mollusks with some 1 million specimens, Coppolino earned a master’s in zoology with a focus on the diversity and abundance of snails in ecosystems. She’s been part of various research projects as a research associate at Ithaca’s Paleontological Research Institution and at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

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