The Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is on the brink of extinction. The last known female of the species has died. Now, there are only three known males left in the world, and the future for this species looks bleak.
The female turtle underwent a fifth artificial insemination trial with a male at the Suzhou Zoo in Suzhou, China, reports BBC News. She died just 24 hours later.
The team was able to collect and store her ovarian tissue in liquid nitrogen for possible future research.
The female softshell turtle came from the Changsha Zoo in Muyun, Changsha, Hunan, China. She was over 90 years old. The surviving male turtle at Suzhou Zoo is believed to be around 100 years old.
According to CNN, the other two Yangtze giant softshell turtles live in the wild in Vietnam, but their genders are unknown.
The giant turtle has suffered from overfishing, hunting, and habitat loss, which has contributed to its dwindling numbers.
We must work to raise awareness for amazing creatures like the Yangtze giant softshell turtle and advocate for stronger hunting and fishing regulations to ensure their lives and homes are protected. Without concentrated effort, another beautiful species on our earth may be lost forever.