Endangered Asian giant softshell turtle dies at Taipei Zoo

Taichung City Government criticized for careless handling of protected turtle

An Asian giant softshell turtle. (Taichung City Government photo)

An Asian giant softshell turtle. (Taichung City Government photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A globally endangered Asian giant softshell turtle has died at the Taipei Zoo after it was found missing from the pond where it had been kept in Taichung.

During a question-and-answer session at Taichung City Council Wednesday morning (Nov. 4), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Councilor Ho Wen-hai (何文海) pointed out that the 37-kilogram animal had disappeared from a pond on the campus of National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) and that he worried animal traffickers had captured it. In response, Taichung Deputy Mayor Huang Guo-rong (黃國榮) said the turtle was most likely alive somewhere on the campus and that the city government would expand its search for it, reported Liberty Times.

However, the Taipei Zoo confirmed a few hours later that the reptile had died from starvation on June 3. It said the animal had been transported to the nation's capital in May along with 60 other turtles of various species.

After discovering the news, Ho bashed the Taichung City Government for being "clueless" about the situation, pointing out he had been inquiring about the turtle's whereabouts for the last three months. He said Taichung officials should apologize for their imprudent handling of such a precious creature, reported CNA.

The Asian giant softshell turtle is a species of freshwater turtle native to Southeast Asia. It is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and has largely disappeared since the start of the 21st century.