Yangtze giant softshell turtle, the world’s rarest turtle, died in Suzhou Zoo in China earlier this month, according to the Suzhou Daily.

The female turtle’s death left behind three known members of the species and has moved their population near extinction.

A day before the female turtle’s death, zoo officials made an effort at artificial insemination using semen from a male turtle, who was estimated to be more than 100 years old, after years of unsuccessfully pairing the two in the hopes of reproducing naturally.

The zoo will conduct an autopsy to determine why the animal died, reported Suzhou Daily.

Conservationists say there are now only three other known members of the species left (AFP Photo/STR)

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is known as the largest freshwater in the world. They mainly live at the Yangtze River, hence the name, and other inland China waterways. However, marine life suffered greatly from decades of pollution and overfishing, which drove marine animals’ population to decrease alarmingly.

There are only two other members of the species left. Conservationists believe both of them are currently living in the wild in Vietnam, with their genders still unknown.

Related stories:
– The ongoing mass animal extinction and how we can stop it
– Monarch butterflies near extinction
– Cancer threatens Tasmanian devils to extinction, but they prove to survive for long