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Should Hanoi Release Doves on Hoan Kiem Lake’s Walking Streets?

The suggestion is Hanoi’s latest attempt to introduce wildlife to the Hoan Kiem Lake area.

In September 2016, the roads encircling Hoan Kiem were pedestrianized; the traffic banished for weekends to come. The move has proved to be one of the most successful and popular developments the capital has seen in years — between 15,000 and 20,000 people are said to visit every evening.

In a claustrophobic city where cramped houses huddle shoulder-to-shoulder and roads resemble battlegrounds, walking streets provide a rare breathing space for people used to clamor. More importantly, they offer a much-needed area in which children and parents can play. The only thing missing, it seems, are vast flocks of doves and pigeons.

According to Dan Tri, Hanoi authorities are considering introducing doves to the area. In an article in Bao Dat Viet, however, many shared concerns about the plan.

Doves are a symbol of peace and so Pham Tuan Anh, 32, said the idea is very romantic, yet may cause problems, especially in what can often be a crowded tourist area. Tuan was particularly concerned about excrement from the birds falling onto people’s clothing.

Others raised concerns about the spread of diseases such as avian influenza or the welfare of the birds themselves. Phan Thanh Nam, 27, said pigeons are a common food source in Vietnam and may, therefore, be caught and eaten, according to Bao Dat Viet.

It’s not the first time people have tried to introduce animals to the area. In February 2018, the Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Ltd. decided to release six pairs of swans on a trial basis in the lake. Locals were delighted at the sight of a flock of black and white swans frolicking on the lake's surface.

The swans lasted just 24 hours, however, as they were quickly relocated after scientists claimed the animals were not compatible with the lake's cultural and historical values.

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