The Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle was believed to be extinct; however, researchers from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo claimed they’ve found one of the rare, mythical beasts in northern Vietnam. The giant turtle is the only known specimen in the wild, though three others are in captivity — two in Chinese zoos and one that is cared for in a lake in downtown Hanoi.
â€œThis is an incredibly important discovery because the Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle is one of the most critically endangered species of turtle in the world,â€ said Doug Hendrie, the Vietnam-based coordinator of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo program. â€œThis species has legendary status among the people of Vietnam, so this is perhaps an opportunity for the legend to live on.â€
The creature’s cultural significance is a result of a Vietnamese legend that depicts a golden turtle that bestowed the people of Vietnam with a magical sword that helped them defeat Chinese invaders in the 16th century.
The wild Swinhoe’s is currently chilling in the lake where it was found, and the Vietnamese government has been notified about the discovery. The giant turtle can reach 3 feet in length and weigh in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. Though this is the only specimen known in the wild, it may still be a long time before the Swinhoe’s makes a graceful exit from the planet earth; the turtles can live up to 100 years.