The Last Female Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle Passed Away

The Last Female Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle Passed Away

The last known female of the world's rarest kind of giant turtle has just passed away.

The female Yangtze giant softshell turtle died at the Suzhou Shangfangshan Forest Zoo in China, where she had lived since 2008. She was put under anesthesia during a 5th attempt to inseminate her artificially, a procedure which people hoped would help rescue her species from extinction. She never woke up this time.

With only three male Yangtze giant softshell turtles left, the death of the last female makes the species functionally extinct.

“It is tragic that the only known female of this species has died,” wrote the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), “but the real tragedy here is that this species has been decimated to near extinction by hunting and habitat destruction.”

The female turtle was first brought to the zoo in hopes that she'd successfully mate with a-hundred-year-old male Yangtze giant softshell in residence there. However, the couple never managed to reproduce naturally. That is when conservationists decided to try artificial insemination. The female turtle underwent many attempted insemination procedures which failed to produce viable eggs before she died during the 5th.


“Sadly, this time the female turtle did not recover normally as she had in the past and she died despite 24 hours of nonstop emergency care,” wrote WCS.

But there is a faint glimmer of hope: The species is famously elusive in the wild, so it is possible there’s still a female hiding somewhere in the forests of China and Vietnam — it is only a matter of keeping her habitat safe and finding her.




“Scientists hope that this species can still be saved by working in conjunction with partners in China and with the Vietnamese government where two individuals of this turtle species, whose sex has not been determined, are known to be in the wild,” wrote WCS.

You can prevent turtles from going extinct by donating to the Turtle Survival Alliance.


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