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Officials Left Shell-Shocked After Man Steals 10kg Turtle From Hoan Kiem Lake

A man hailing from Nghe An Province was caught trying to steal a turtle from Hoan Kiem Lake after locals saw him sneaking the creature into his jacket.

Major Vu The Cuong, head of the local police unit, confirmed on Monday evening that officers took both the suspect, 41-year-old Thai Huu H., and the turtle itself to a nearby police station, according to Tuoi Tre. The man, whose full name has not been released, is expected to be charged for theft.

Initial reports suggest the turtle is a hard-shell, rather than soft-shell, turtle, which has quashed the dreams of those hoping this creature might be a descendant of Hanoi's beloved Cu Rua. Local experts will examine the creature to find out whether it belongs to another rare species.

Cu Rua was found dead in January 2016, much to the sorrow of the capital's residents. Hoan Kiem management officials found the turtle floating in the downtown lake near Le Thai To Street.

At the time of its death, the endangered Yangtze giant softshell turtle was one of only four of its kind left in the world, with one of the surviving creatures in Hanoi's Dong Mo Lake and the other two in China.

In April 2018, however, another rare Yangtze giant softshell turtle was discovered in Hanoi’s Xuan Khanh Lake. The creature was identified as the same species as Hoan Kiem Lake's legendary Cu Rua, according to the Asian Turtle Program, leading to hope among conservationists that the critically endangered species could yet make a recovery.

[Photo via Creative Commons]

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