Rare Species of Asian Turtle on the Brink of Extinction

By Ryan Gandolfo, April 16, 2019

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On April 12, China’s last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle died at a zoo in Suzhou. The animal was said to be around 90 years old at the time of her death.

According to Suzhou Daily, the female turtle had been transported from Changsha to Suzhou in hopes of mating with a male of the same species located in the zoo; however, the two rare turtles failed to mate either naturally or via artificial insemination (staff at the zoo tried several times to artificially inseminate the female turtle using semen from the 100-year-old male turtle).

Image via @无穷花三千里/Weibo

Yangtze giant softshell turtles are considered the largest freshwater turtles in the world, growing up to 100 centimeters and weighing up to 100 kilograms, according to the Guardian.

READ MORE: 'Turtle Burger' Story Goes Viral… 3 Years Later

Image via @财新周/Weibo

The turtle’s untimely death may very well spell the end of this fascinating turtle species, with only three known Yangzte giant softshell turtles in existence around the globe. Aside from the male in Suzhou, there are two other known giant softshell turtles in Vietnam, both of whose gender is still unknown.

Arguably the world’s rarest turtle species today, the Yangzte giant softshell turtle population has been decimated in recent decades, with hunting and urban development cited as contributing factors to the painful demise of the species, according to National Geographic.

Image via @无穷花三千里/Weibo

In 2008, Science Daily published an article about the discovery of one of the remaining giant softshell turtles in a lake to the west of Hanoi, Vietnam. Here’s to hoping another will be discovered to help prolong the existence of this majestic turtle species.

READ MORE: Man Pays ¥6,000 to Save Rare Turtle Captured in Pearl River 

[Cover image via @苏州日报/Weibo]

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