Death of rare turtle leaves 3 remaining in the world

James Marshall
April 15, 2019

The world's rarest turtle has moved closer to extinction after a female died in a Chinese zoo, leaving just three known members of the species.

The female turtle, believed to be more than 90 years old, died on Saturday more than 24 hours after local staff, together with worldwide experts, attempted to artificially inseminate her, local newspaper the Suzhou Daily reported.

Experts had tried to artificially inseminate the creature, which was over 90 years old, for a fifth time shortly before she died.

Conservations say there are now only two other known members of the species left, both living in the wild in Vietnam and of unknown gender.

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

An autopsy would be performed, Suzhou Daily said. It said experts have already used technology to collect the turtle's ovarian tissue for future research.

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, growing to 39 inches (100 cm) long and weighing up to 220 pounds (100kg).

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.

Suzhou authorities confirmed the female turtle died on Saturday afternoon.

Yangtze giant softshell turtles originated in China, making their homes in the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake, according to the People's Daily.

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.

The turtle's main habitat was the Yangtze River and other inland China waterways.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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