A Yangtze giant softshell turtle believed to be the last of her species has experts on the edge as she is about to lay her eggs. The last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle, which is more than 100 years old had to be artificially inseminated with the sperms of an 85-year-old male turtle that has damaged sex organs.
A female Yangtze giant softshell turtle could save the entire Rafetus swinhoei species by breeding. The 100-year-old Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the last female left on earth, which would explain why scientists at the Suzhou Zoo in China are doing the impossible the get her pregnant.
There are about six male Yangtze giant softshell turtles alive on the planet, and only one is in China. The experts tried to get the pair to procreate the natural way and when that failed, and they tried again and it worked.
However, when she laid her eggs, they were nonviable. Experts learned that the 85-year-old male has “damaged sex organs” stemming from a fight he had 20-something years ago with another turtle, which is when they pulled out a turkey baster.
Using a regular turkey baster, the female Yangtze giant softshell turtle was artificially inseminated successfully thanks to the viable semen sample they were able to collect. Researcher John Platt at the Scientific American said:
“Not long after the female met her new boyfriend, Mr. Turkey Baster.”
Experts are now waiting as the last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle is expected to lay up to 60 eggs this month, and they are hoping and even praying that they are fertile.
Zoo biologist Rick Hudson from Fort Worth, Texas added:
“The conservation world will once again be holding its collective breath until we know if this was successful. This autumn, the female Rafetus swinhoei will be moved back to Changsha Zoo,” said Vice Director Yan Xiahui of Changsha Zoo, where the turtle originally came from. “We hope some children move together with her.”
Some scientists have said that we may be living in “the greatest periods of extinction in the history of life on our planet.”