Hoan Kiem turtle

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The Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus leloii) is a species of turtle from Southeast Asia. Its status as a distinct species is questionable, with the most recent review strongly suggesting Rafetus leloii is a synonym of Rafetus swinhoei.Farkas, B and Webb, R.G. 2003. Rafetus leloii Hà Dinh Dúc, 2000—an invalid species of softshell turtle from Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam (Reptilia, Testudines, Trionychidae). Zool. Abhandl. (Dresden), 53: 107-112.


Stories of the Hoan Kiem turtle began in the fifteenth century with Lê Lợi, who became an emperor of Vietnam and founder of the Lê Dynasty. According to legend, Lê Lợi had a magic sword given to him by Kim Qui, the Golden Turtle God. One day, not long after the Chinese had accepted Vietnam's independence, Lê Lợi was out boating on a lake in Hanoi. Suddenly a large turtle surfaced, took the sword from Lê Lợi, and dove back into the depths. Efforts were made to find both the sword and the turtle, but without success. Lê Lợi then acknowledged the sword had gone back to the Golden turtle God and renamed the lake Hoan Kiem Lake (or Ho Guom Lake), "The Lake of the Returned Sword".


Near the northern shore of Hoan Kiem Lake lies Jade Island, on which the Temple of the Jade Mountain is located. On June 2, 1967 a Hoan Kiem turtle died, and was preserved and placed on display in the temple. That particular specimen weighed 200 kg (440 lbs)...
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