The only known female member of one of the world’s rarest turtle species has died at a zoo in southern China, officials say.
- The turtle was reportedly over 90 years old and had just undergone a fifth attempt at artificial insemination
- Experts have collected the turtle’s ovarian tissue for future research
- Another Yangtze giant softshell turtle lives in China, and the remaining two are in Vietnam
The animal was one of only four Yangtze giant softshell turtles known to be remaining in the world.
The Suzhou zoo, where the female turtle lived, also houses a male Yangtze giant softshell turtle.
The other two live in Vietnam, but their genders are unknown.
The turtle died on Saturday afternoon (local time), the Suzhou City Government said in a statement, citing the zoo.
It said experts had already collected the turtle’s ovarian tissue for future research.
The turtle was more 90 years old and had undergone a fifth attempt at artificial insemination shortly before it died, the state-run People’s Daily reported.
A medical examination found the turtle to be in good health prior to the procedure, the People’s Daily said, and the artificial insemination appeared to go smoothly, but the turtle died the following day.
Yangtze giant softshell turtles originated in China, making their homes in the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake.
The species is often referred to as the most endangered turtle in the world.
Suzhou authorities said Chinese and foreign experts were investigating the cause of the turtle’s death.