An extremely rare type of turtle that is known for its permanent smile has been successfully brought back from extinction.
It took experts and conservationists 20 years to make it happen!
The turtle that we are talking about is known as the giant Asian River Turtle.
20 years ago, the species were presumed to have gone extinct, but now, there are nearly 1,000 of the little fellas in captivity.
Not only that, but they have been released into the wild in Myanmar.
Steven G. Platt, a herpetologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said that this specific type of turtle was really close to going out.
We came so close to losing them. If we didn’t intervene when we did, this turtle would have just been gone.
Back in 2001, researchers found the shell of a recently killed turtle in a village along the Dokhtawady River in Myanmar.
Researchers were encouraged at that time to find populations of the turtles.
However, there was a problem in 2001.
There were only around 10 adult females that were surviving in the wild at that time.
At the time, Platt said that the biggest threat is that there are so few left in the wild, so if an accident happens, they will lose a big chunk of the population.
Talking about the problems that they might face, Platt said:
Otherwise it’s mostly fishing. I worry about them getting entangled in fishing gear and drowning. And if we didn’t monitor, the eggs would be collected.
At that time, a live specimen of the turtle turned up in a market in Hong Kong and it found its way to an American collector, who still has the turtle in his possession.
Rick Hudson, the president of the Turtle Survival Alliance, said:
When the species showed up in a pet shop in Hong Kong, it raised a lot of eyebrows. There were a number of local dealers smuggling star tortoises out of Burma at that time, so we just assumed it had been smuggled out by the same traders.
This has to be one of the best news that we had gotten this week!