In the heart of Vietnam, there’s a lake Hoan Kiem, which means “returned sword” lives one of the rarest turtles on earth. The red river giant soft-shell turtle, Rafetus Swinhoei. This turtle is a symbol of Vietnams freedom and independence.
Weighing over 250 lbs, there are only four of these turtles that are known to be left in the world. But, not only is it beautiful and rare, it is also very important to the history of Vietnam.
A myth that came about 600 years ago, when the Chinese tried to conquer Vietnam. The king was sending his troops out to defend the land. When a turtle came to him and told him where to send his people to fight. Some even believe that the same legendary turtle is the same turtle that still lives in the lake today.
Specialists are working to save the species; In fact, the turtle in Hoan Kiem was injured from debris and other pollution that has gotten into the lake. Hundreds of people worked to clean the lake, where there was construction nearby and metals and bricks fell into the lake and cut up the turtle’s side, which was extremely harmful because it’s a soft-shelled turtle. Veterinarians treated him as quickly as possible to let him get back to his very peaceful life.
Since this turtle is reserved to live in this lake, there are only three other turtles left to revive the species. One of which was released back to its natural habitat in China. Three years ago a male and female were brought together and expected to lay eggs, but the eggs never hatched.
Some people never give up the hope that the red river giant soft-shell turtle will make it to the next generation, perhaps there are some left in the wild that scientists are unaware of.