Unresolved: Cryptids - Hoan Kiem Turtle
There is a good chance that most cryptids don’t exist. And, it’s not very often in the world of cryptids when myth turns into reality. But when it does, cryptozoologists worlds change. It’s shocking, it’s exciting when creatures said to be non-existent are proven to be real.
Today, we are going to be talking about one of those former cryptids. The Hoan Kiem Turtle was a myth in Vietnam for six centuries. In Vietnamese folklore, this turtle helped a king nearly 600 years ago fend off the Chinese. In 1967 on June 2nd, a Hoan Kiem Turtle was killed by an abusive fisherman. He was ordered to catch it, but he instead hit the poor animal with a crowbar. The turtle's body was preserved and displayed in the Temple of the Jade Mountain, a temple located on Jade Island near Hoan Kiem Lake. It weighed 440lbs, was 6.3ft long and thought to be roughly 600 years old. Six-hundred years. Hm....
Illustration of the King and the Hoan Kiem Turle, www.thenotsoinnocentabroad.com
On March 24, 1998 a cameraman caught the legendary creature on video. Not only did this prove the turtles were still living in the lake since its last human encounter but it proved the turtle did actually exist. In 2000, a professor named Ha Dinh Duc gave the turtle its scientific name Rafetus leloii. It is believed that the turtle is the identical twin of the swinhoei turtle. This would mean there are four known living specimen (at that time). Three of them in captivity and one living wildly (two in Chinese zoos, the swinhoei in Dong Mo and the one living in Hoan Kiem Lake).
On March 8, 2011 an attempt was made to capture the turtle living in the lake via net but failed when the turtle bit a hole in the net and escaped. The turtle was then caught on April 3, 2011 and brought to an enclosure for study and treatment. They found out that the turtle was female and one of Professor Duc's goals was to find a mate for her to keep the species from going extinct. They are some people who believe that she isn't the only one who was living in the lake but Duc believes otherwise. Now, I don't know what happened to this specific turtle. I think she might have been put back into the lake. There was a male swinhoei turtle named Cu Rua that died in 2016 and said to have been the last known one. He was also considered to be nearly 600 years. Hm... ;)
Upon reading many articles, in 2016 there were still the 3 other turtles. The two in China and the one in Hoan Kiem Lake, which makes me think she was placed back in her original home.
Cu Rua, www.medium.com
Moving forward a bit to April 2019, it was believe that Cu Rua wasn't the last of its kind. There were two turtles living in the Suzhou Zoo (I believe to be the others that were in captivity in China) and scientists attempted to breed them but that failed and the female died. Now moving back to February of 2019 while the planning of the artificial breeding was going on, an eight-member team found another female swinhoei in Dong Mo lake. They successfully captured her in October 2020. Scientists found DNA in the lake which means it's possible that at least one more lives.
2020 Swinhoei turtle, www.animals24-7.org
If the swinhoei and leloii are indeed the same species or part of the same family then hopefully the attempt to conserve the species succeeds. I believe that there might still some living out in the wild. If they were able to keep hidden for 600 years from humans then I think that they still are. And if so, if they were able to survive all these years then maybe.. just maybe... it may be best to leave them alone? That's just my opinion, though.
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