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World's Most Endangered Species Likely Doomed After Last Known Female Dies

Yangtze giant softshell turtles
YouTube: PBS

There are now only three of these extremely rare turtles left in the world.

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle has become one of the most endangered species on the planet, and now there might be no turning back.

Native to China and Vietnam, the Yangtze truly is a giant, marvelous specimen, measuring over 39 inches in overall length and weighting between 150 and 220 pounds on average.

However, the last known female died during an artificial insemination procedure in China last Saturday, according to a report from the Suzhou Daily, a local newspaper.

Researchers believed the turtle was more than 90 years old, and that it died 24 hours after the procedure. While there were reportedly no issues during the insemination, a research team is planning an autopsy to determine the cause of death. They also salvaged ovarian tissue that could potentially be used down the road.

The following video from 2009 really highlights how long experts have been fighting to save this species:

Only knowing of three remaining turtles, the Wildlife Conservation Society says the Yangtze is the world's most critically endangered turtle species on Earth.

The species suffered its greatest hits from habitat destruction, pollution and hunting, although two of the remaining turtles still live in the wild.

"The plight of Yangtze giant softshell, together with the plights of thousands of other declining and recently extinct species, reminds us that we are living through a biodiversity and extinction crisis that requires bold and immediate action," David Steen of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center told The Washington Post.

According to a report from the New Yorker, they live in Vietnam, although their genders are unknown.

The third, a male, is at the Suzhou Zoo.

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World's Most Endangered Species Likely Doomed After Last Known Female Dies