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After Plastination, Hanoi's Beloved Cu Rua Preserved for All to See

Ever since Hoan Kiem Lake’s legendary turtle sadly perished in 2016, many expected the beloved creature would be preserved and put on display so Hanoians could pay their respects.

Ngoc Son Temple, which sits on a small island within the lake, has long held a plasticized turtle in a glass case that died back in 1967. Now, after a three-year wait, Cu Rua herself has been plasticized and put on display, with her reproductive organs placed right beside her, according to VnExpress.

The case in which she is now kept is comprised of anti-flash glass that’s over one centimeter thick and equipped with air conditioning and humidifying systems.

Cu Rua on display. Photo via VnExpress.

Plastination preserves animal tissue by replacing fats and body fluids with synthetic materials. The method allows animals to appear in an almost life-like, yet odorless state.

The reptile, commonly referred to as the Sword Lake turtle, is held close to people's hearts in Vietnam. The name derives from a mythical Golden Turtle God that lived in Hoan Kiem Lake and presented Emperor Le Loi with a magical sword used to vanquish invading Chinese. 

There are only four members of the Rafetus swinhoei species left in the world, one of which lives in Hanoi's Dong Mo Lake. The other two remaining turtles can be found in Suzhou Zoo in China.

There were previously thought to be only three left until another was found in Hanoi last April. Then, in November, the government announced a new conservation plan which includes attempting to locate other Yangtze turtles. The program will also attempt to ensure the safety of the two remaining turtles in Vietnam while aiming to find a way for the turtles to mate.

The Vietnamese government has also proposed collaborating with China in order to find a way to preserve the species.

[Top photo via TIME]

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