Rare turtle dies, leaving only 3 left in existence
One of the world's rarest turtles has died in China, and, now, only three of its kind remain.
The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle died in a zoo in Suzhou, according to CNN and The Guardian, which both cited Suzhou Daily. It was estimated to be over 90 years old. Local staff, with assistance from international experts, had attempted to artificially inseminate it by using semen from a male that was 10 years older.
Researchers will conduct an autopsy to determine the female turtle's cause of death but have already collected its ovarian tissue samples.
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the world's largest freshwater turtle — it can grow up to 40 inches in length and can weigh more than 200 pounds. It resides mainly in muddy areas that are found along China's Yangtze River and in parts of Vietnam. Its numbers have fallen rapidly due to poaching and habitat destruction.
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The female turtle's death leaves the zoo with just one male turtle. Scientists had tried to get the female to naturally mate with its counterpart for several years but failed. Researchers believe poor sperm quality from the aging male, along with an improper mating posture and stress on the female, were contributing factors, the National Geographic reported back in 2013.
The other two remaining turtles live in the wild in Vietnam, though a New Yorker report recently revealed that one of them only surfaces once every few weeks.