A lot of ink (and a few tears) were spilled last year over the death of one of the world's last few northern white rhinos. That was tragic, but it was also (at least) still a subspecies. Today, one of the world's rarest animals (a whole species this time... remember, taxonomy matters!) took a giant step towards extinction. One of the last four Yangtze softshell turtles, believed to be over 100-years old and idolized by a nation, was found dead.
The species is now limited to a pair in a Chinese zoo and a third turtle in a (different) lake in Hanoi, so the outlook isn't bright. The loss of any species is tragic, but in this case it's very said because this animal is just so... spectacular. I mean, look at the pictures, it's a turtle the size of a bathtub!
Unfortunately, it looks like there is about to be a new candidate for the title of "World's Rarest Turtle."
A giant soft-shell turtle considered a sacred symbol of Vietnamese independence is guided into a cage for a health check by handlers at Hanoi's Hoan Kiem lake on April 3, 2011.