The turtle who died was discovered in Vietnam’s Dong Mo Lake in 2021.
The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle has died. She was found at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam, April 23, Conservationist Forrest Galante announced in a video on social media.
“I am still in just such belief that yesterday, we literally witnessed the loss of one of the planet’s true gigantic species, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle,” Galante wrote on Facebook. “It’s just devastating. Humans must learn from this and try to do better as docents of our planet.”
Galante worked with the turtle in 2020, participating in an eDNA analysis of the turtle with the Asian Turtle Program, which confirmed her gender.
There are just two known Yangtze giant softshell turtles left. Both are living in a zoo in China. Galante noted that the male has a broken penis and is unable to reproduce, garnering this species functionally extinct.
The turtle who died was discovered in Vietnam’s Dong Mo Lake in 2021. Prior to her discovery, a female named China Girl, at the Suzhou Zoo in China was the last known female. She died in 2019.
Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle Information
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle, also known as the Hoan Kiem turtle or Swinhoe’s softshell turtle, is native to China and Vietnam. There are only two known living individuals, both living in captivity. The species is now functionally extinct, unless a female in the wild is located and successfully bred. It can grow to six feet in length and weigh upward of 500 lbs. Yangtze giant softshell turtles are critically endangered. The population of this species has dropped drastically due to hunting, habitat loss, and change in environments for rice production. There is the potential that this species may be found in larger more isolated lakes.