She was among the rarest of living creatures—the last of her kind left in the world—and she just died.
The last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle had lived at the Suzhou Shangfangshan Forest Zoo in China since 2008.She was originally brought to the zoo in hopes that she would mate with a 100-year-old male Yangtze giant softshell already being kept there, but conservationists were forced to turn to artificial insemination when attempts at natural reproduction failed.Several tries were made, but following the fifth attempt she never woke up from the anesthesia. Now there are only three male Yangtze giant softshell turtles left—and with the loss of the only viable female, the species is functionally extinct.
“It is tragic that the only known female of this species has died,” the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) wrote in a statement, “but the real tragedy here is that this species has been decimated to near extinction by hunting and habitat destruction.
“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,” WCS wrote.
The species is notoriously elusive and difficult to find in the wild, which has left some conservationists hoping that, unknown to us, another female may still be out there in the forests of China and Vietnam.If there are any remaining female Yangtze giant softshells, protecting their habitat would be a crucial part of keeping the species alive.
“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,” WCS wrote.
Help save turtles in the wild by making a donation to the Turtle Survival Alliance.
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