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Sacred Vietnamese Turtle Dies: 'Great-Grandfather Turtle' Was Between 80 and 100

Image: Sacred Vietnamese Turtle Dies: 'Great-Grandfather Turtle' Was Between 80 and 100
A giant soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) which is considered a sacred symbol of Vietnamese independence is guided into a cage for a health check by handlers at Hoan Kiem lake in the heart of Hanoi. (AFP Photo/Vietnam News Agency/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 21 Jan 2016 01:16 PM

A giant sacred Vietnamese turtle died this week in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake, the last of four known to be in the lake and thought to be the "manifestation of the Golden Turtle God."

The turtle is believed to have been a part of a deity that helped the country defeat enemies, the Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien wrote in 2011, according to Bloomberg.

The turtle, known as Cu Rua, or "great grandfather," was discovered floating lifelessly in the lake on Tuesday, and officials told CNN that old age and bad weather ultimately led to its demise.

"Speaking about great grandfather turtle makes me want to cry," Nguyen Ba Dan, a 78-year-old who sells paintings and calligraphy at the lake, said, according to Bloomberg. "Great grandfather turtle is a symbol of Hanoi and of our country."

The turtle, a Yangtze giant softshell, weighed about 440 pounds and was estimated to have been between 80 to 100 years old, according to Agence France-Presse. Two of three other Yangtzes believed to be in existence are in a Chinese zoo, while the last lives in a different Hanoi lake.

"[It was] possibly the rarest species on the planet and definitely the rarest turtle species . . . It's a great blow," Tim McCormack, of the Asian Turtle Program, told AFP. "It was clearly an ancient animal, I would say easily over 100 years old, and so its death does not come as any real great surprise."

Cu Rua's shell will now be preserved at the Vietnam Nature Museum, CNN reported.

Some express their concerns over the turtle's death on Twitter.




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A giant sacred Vietnamese turtle died Tuesday in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake, the last of four known to be in the lake and thought to be the "manifestation of the Golden Turtle God."
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2016-16-21
Thursday, 21 Jan 2016 01:16 PM
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