Rare female turtle dies in China, leaving behind only three others

15 Avril, 2019, 20:38 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The only known female member of one of the world's rarest turtle species has died at a zoo in southern China

The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle has died in China, according to Chinese state media, potentially dooming the species to extinction.

The female Yangtze giant softshell turtle is seen in the mud after water being pumped out to get it for insemination at the Suzhou Zoo in Suzhou in east China's Jiangsu province Wednesday, May.

Local staff and global experts had attempted to artificially inseminate the female 24 hours before she died.

She was moved to Suzhou from the Changsa Ecological Zoo 11 years ago to be paired with the male turtle there.

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The gender of two other turtles in Vietnam is not known.

The death of a 90-year-old female Yangtze giant softshell turtle on Saturday leaves only three of the world's rarest turtles.

Its death came a day after staff at the facility attempted to artificially inseminate the animal using semen from a male more than 10 years her senior, the newspaper reported. Only three others are known to exist, one at the Suzhou Zoo and two others in separate lakes in Hanoi, Vietnam. It said experts have already used technology to collect the turtle's ovarian tissue for future research. The artificial insemination on Friday was the fifth time the zoo had tried the procedure with the pair.

Scientists announced in 2015 that they would be trying to artificially inseminate the female at Suzhou zoo, as a last-ditch effort to save what is often referred to as the most endangered turtle in the world. A necropsy will be performed as well. Yangtze softshell turtles are the largest freshwater turtle species in the world.

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