Rescuers work to save “sacred” Vietnamese turtle

How do you save a sacred Vietnamese turtle? Very, very carefully, according to dozens of veterinarian workers in Hanoi who are trying to capture a rare giant turtle in desperate need of medical attention from Vietnam‘s Hoan Kiem Lake.

Workers waded through the lake to try to save the giant freshwater turtle so it could be pulled to land and treated. The animal – one of only four Rafeteus swinhoei believed to be alive today – is one of the world’s most endangered turtles with roots back hundreds of years. In fact, some even believe the sacred turtle is the same mythical creature said to have helped a Vietnamese king fend off the Chinese nearly six centuries ago.The news of the turtle’s wrecked condition sent hundreds of Vietnamese into action, working and watching while rescuers tried to pull the turtle to safety. Photos detail open pink sores on its neck and legs and lesions on its shell, which stretches 6 feet long and 4 feet wide.

Some experts blame the sewage and trash-filled lake for the turtle’s condition, and locals have worked for days to removing chunks of debris from the lake and pumping in fresh water. Last week, a small island in the lake was expanded with sandbags to form a platform large enough for the turtle to rest, complete with a little pond.

According to Yahoo! news, many Vietnamese believe the turtle is the same one described in the legend of King Le Loi, who is said to have defeated Chinese invaders with a magic sword given to him by the gods. After the victory,a giant golden turtle is said to have risen to the surface and snatched the sword from the kid’s hands, then plunged back into the water to return the sword to its owners.

[via Yahoo!]