Turtle Species on Brink as Artificial Insemination Fails

100-year-old would-be mom has more eggs on the way
By Brownie Marie,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2015 1:40 PM CDT
In this 2011 photo, a giant softshell turtle is seen after being pulled from Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.   (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)

(Newser) – Nearly eight dozen Infertile eggs disappointed researchers at the Turtle Survival Alliance this week—and could have serious consequences for an entire species. A female Yangtze giant softshell turtle at China’s Suzhou Zoo laid 89 eggs after being artificially inseminated, but none of them were viable, reports Scientific American. Scientists were desperate for the hatchlings because the would-be mother is believed to be the last of her gender, and she's about 100 years old.

She has been coupled with a male of around the same age since 2008, but artificial insemination is necessary because his penis was "mangled" in a fight years ago. Only two other Yangtze turtles exist, a pair of males in Vietnam, for a grand total of four. Despite the setback, all is not lost. At least one more clutch of eggs is expected this year, so they'll try insemination again. "We’re kind of learning as we go," a TSA official tells Scientific American. (The eastern cougar is no longer endangered, but that's not a good thing.)

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