The Red River giant softshell turtle is a very rare and critically endangered species of softshell turtles. There’s an estimate of only FOUR of these beautiful creatures remaining. At 39 inches in length, 28 inches in width, and weighing around 440 pounds, the Red River softshell turtle holds the title of being the largest freshwater turtle in the world.
Only four specimens are known to live in Vietnam and China, one at Hoan Kiem Lake, one at Dong Mo Lake Son Tay in Vietnam, and two at the Suzhou Zoo in China. The turtle residing in Hoan Kiem Lake in is known as the symbol of Vietnam’s independence. The two captive turtles were brought together in China and have since produced eggs but sadly, the eggs failed to develop. At the time of their mating process, the male was one hundred years old and the female was eighty. The Turtle Survival Alliance released a statement saying, “A number of the eggs had very thin shells, suggesting that the diet of the animals prior to breeding was not optimal.” The two turtle are now being prepared for another round of mating, while being fed a high-calcium diet in an effort to strengthen the eggs. Liu Jinde, the director of the zoo said, “We’ve worked very hard on this, We ought to succeed. The turtles are very healthy.”
The Red River softshell turtle is on the brink of extinction thanks to habitat loss, hunting, consumption, and medical research. A recent plan to build hydropower cascade of 12 dams on the Red River in China may flood all of its habitat and change the ecosystem of lower Vietnam.