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Hanoi's Beloved Hoan Kiem Turtle Has Died

Hanoi's beloved Hoan Kiem turtle was found dead yesterday afternoon, much to the sorrow of the capital's residents.

Hoan Kiem management officials found the turtle floating in the downtown lake around 4:30pm near Le Thai To Street, according to Tuoi Tre. The endangered Yangtze giant softshell turtle was one of only four of its kind left in the world, reports VietnamNet, with one of the surviving creatures in Hanoi's Dong Mo Lake and the other two in China.

City officials contacted Professor Ha Dinh Duc, a long-time advocate for and researcher of the Hoan Kiem turtle, to discuss the removal and preservation of the animal, which is considered a national symbol. Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee Nguyen Duc Chung was also on the scene, telling the media the Hoan Kiem turtle would be taken to nearby Ngoc Son Pagoda while officials decide upon how best to preserve the creature.

Hoan Kiem's turtle made international headlines in 2011 after pollution began to take its toll on the creature's health, prompting hundreds of Hanoians to roll up their sleeves and organize a clean-up of the lake.

"For the Vietnamese, the Hoan Kiem lake turtle is the most sacred thing," Nguyen Thi Xuan, a Hanoi resident and retired state employee, told The Guardian. "[She] has helped the Vietnamese to defeat foreign invaders and helped the country to have peace. I hope [she] will live for ever."

Unfortunately, Xuan will not get her wish. Rest in peace, Hoan Kiem turtle, which you can see moving about the lake in this video shot in 2011:

[Photo via Doi Song & Phap Luat]

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