One of world's rarest turtles, Yangtze Giant Softshell dies in Chinese zoo
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One of world’s rarest turtles, Yangtze Giant Softshell dies in Chinese zoo

One of the rarest turtles on the world, Yangtze Giant Softshell died in a Chinese zoo. This death has led to only three known members of the species left now.

On Saturday, the female turtle, Rafetus swinhoei which was 90 years old died in Suzhou Zoo in southern China. Before she died, the experts tried to artificially inseminate the creature for the fifth time. This species has suffered from many years so hunting, overfishing, and destruction of its habitat.

The more than 100 years old Suzhou zoo semen was performed as the last attempt and it was done 24 hours before she died on a Saturday afternoon. The male tortoise lives in the Chinese zoo and the rest two of them live in the forest of Vietnam.

They said that the operation had caused no such complications and she had been fine after it but her health deteriorated the next day.


In the past also, the zoo had unsuccessfully tried to pair to mate multiple times. The zoo authorities will be conducting an autopsy to know the cause of death. The turtle’s ovarian tissue was collected for future research purpose.

Earlier in 2015, scientists from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), San Diego Zoo Global, and Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo had attempted artificial insemination to breed the rare turtle but failed to do so.


In 2008 the female turtle was brought to the zoo from Changsha ecological zoo to be paired with the male as part of a captive breeding program to recover the species. The female turtles laid the eggs but they were infertile.

For those unaware, Rafetus swinhoei is listed at the top of the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, as critically endangered. Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the most critically endangered turtle in the world.

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