HANOI, Vietnam – An ailing giant turtle considered sacred by many Vietnamese was captured in a lake in central Hanoi on Sunday by rescuers who hope to give it medical attention.
Thousands of onlookers cheered at Hoan Kiem Lake as the creature was pulled in after escaping capture last month. It took 50 workers two hours to net the turtle and lure into a cage, which was then transported by boat to a small island that was recently expanded and equipped with a small pond, known as the “turtle hospital,” said Ha Dinh Duc, who has studied the turtle for 20 years and considers himself its caretaker.
He said it will be kept on the island for medical treatment. Concerns mounted after the turtle was spotted with lesions on its head and shell.
The reptile weighs about 440 pounds and is one of the world’s most endangered freshwater turtles.
Scientists say it is at least 80 years old, but many Vietnamese believe, as legend has it, that it is the same mythical creature that helped Vietnamese King Le Loi fend off the Chinese nearly six centuries ago.