Last known female of rare turtle species dies in China

James Marshall
April 15, 2019

China's last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle died over the weekend at the Suzhou Zoo.

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle was one of only four believed to be left in the world.

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

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.

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

The female's death came a day after zoo officials made a last-ditch effort at artificial insemination using semen from the Suzhou Zoo male. Researchers spent hours trying to revive the turtle, the report said.

Workers carry a female Rafetus swinhoei (also known as Yangtze giant soft shell turtle) to receive artificial insemination at Suzhou Zoo in 2015. It is thought to be more than 100 years old. Only three others are known to exist, one at the Suzhou Zoo and two others in separate lakes in Hanoi, Vietnam. Their genders are not known.

The zoo had tried unsuccessfully for several years to get the pair to reproduce naturally.

Experts collected the turtle's ovarian tissue for future research, the Associated Press reported. A necropsy will be performed as well.

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).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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