07 December 2007


Yangtze Giant Soft-shelled Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), Critically Endangered

The Yangtze Giant Soft-shelled Turtle is on the verge of disappearing forever. Only two known turtles exist, a 100-year-old male, and an 80-year-old female, each living in a separate zoo in China. Hope certainly exists that artificial insemination and breeding may ensure future generations of Yangtze Turtles, but many questions still remain. Can these two turtles produce viable offspring? Do they possess, between them, enough genetic diversity to recreate a healthy population. Will there be a healthy river ecosystem to return any future turtles to? Would the money be better spent on breeding these two turtles, or on attacking the root causes of over-development, pollution, and overharvesting?

Answers to these questions will come in time, but until they are answered, let's hope that these two turtles stay alive and healthy.

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