Dallas, Texas (WiredPRNews.com) — Once believed to be extinct, a rare giant turtle known as a Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle was discovered in a lake in northern Vietnam. Found by researchers from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the turtle species was once thought to be extinct. The other three turtles of its kind are currently being held in captivity.
According to a report by the Associated Press, “the discovery represents hope for the species,'” said Doug Hendrie, the Vietnam-based coordinator of the zoo program. The turtle currently remains where it was found in the lake and it has been said that locals believed they were “blessed” when they caught a glimpse of the “mythical” creature as it would rise above the water for sun. This could go as far back as ancient times when the soft-shell turtle held a much larger story.
“A national legend tells of a giant golden turtle that bestowed upon the Vietnamese people a magic sword and victory over Chinese invaders in the 16th century.”
An effort on behalf of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 2003 to preserve and protect the species of Asian turtles was put in place to prevent killing for the sake of food, or for the creation of local medicine derived from the bones of the turtle.
Although there are only three surviving turtles of its kind, the group are being cared for and protected in various locations. “Of the other three Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtles, two are in Chinese zoos and the other is cared for in the Hoan Kiem (“Returned Sword”) Lake in downtown Hanoi — the lake in which the legendary turtle appeared to reclaim the sword from the emperor.”
Dallas News Reporter