Hanoi to capture legendary turtle for treatment

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A pool will be established at Hanoi's Hoan Kiem (sword) Lake to treat its seriously injured resident turtle that enjoys legendary status in the country, the capital city authorities have decided.

 

The Hanoi People's Committee announced the decision at a meeting Friday after months of discussions and arguments among officials and scientists on how to save the rare animal, said to belong to the giant soft-shell turtle (Rafetus Swinhoel).

 

The rescue project was set to start Saturday.

 

Under the decision, the pond will be set up at the Rua (Tortoise) Tower pagoda that occupies a small island in the middle of the lake. It will use water that has the same chemical components, but isn't polluted, the decision said.

 

Related agencies will try to trap the turtle and take it to the pond for urgent treatment.

 

Another option is to turn the pagoda's islet into a sandy area to attract the turtle, and then catching it.

 

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It was also decided at Friday's meeting that related agencies will be asked to initiate measures to reduce pollution in the lake and to catch the invasive red-eared sliders that have been found in the lake.

 

Last August, local media published images of the aging turtle, believed to be around 700 years old, addled with fishhooks and old scars.

 

This has sparked debate about how to protect the creature, drawing the attention of international experts and scientists.

 

The turtle is said to be one of only four confirmed members of its species left in the world two living wild in Vietnamese lakes and a captive pair in China that have, so far, failed to produce fertile eggs.

 

The Hoan Kiem Turtle has played an important role in Vietnamese lore for more than 2,000 years, depicted as a deity who has helped design fortifications, thwart enemy armies and produce a number of enchanted weapons.

 

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