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 The Story of Cu Rua

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Danai
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PostSubject: The Story of Cu Rua   Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:18 am

Cu Rua, Vietnamese words which literally means “great grandfather” is the name that is given to a turtle that is believed to be the legendary figure in returning the victory sword of the King way back in the 15th century after a victorious war. According to folklore, King Le Loi defeated the invading Ming dynasty of China with a magic sword. While spending recreational time on a lake, a golden turtle snatched the sword and believed to have submitted it back to the deities. The lake is named “Ho Hoan Kiem”, Vietnamese words that translate “Lake of the Returned Sword”.
Cu Rua is about two hundred kilos in weight and its gigantic shell measures about six feet long and four feet wide.




Debatable Issues
Some may dispute if the turtle that lives in Ho Hoan Kiem is the same turtle as figured in the folklore that was passed from generation to another. If it was true, then the turtle should be more than five centuries old.
It is widely believed that the turtle is among the highly endangered species because there are only four of them crawling on earth. On the other hand, some close on lookers of Ho Hoan Kiem Lake say that they have seen two turtles resurfacing at the same time, the other with a black head.
Whether the turtle, either in a legendary point of view or in an environmental and scientific point of view, is getting exaggerated attention gets a split opinion from the constituents of Vietnam. While some people travel even a considerable distance just to have a glimpse of the turtle and claim the good luck it brings, some simply shrug their shoulders and opines that it is not worth the attention that it is getting.
For purposes of perpetuating the turtle, would it not be better to have it join its own kind? Two are said to be in a zoo in China. Vietnamese are vehemently opposed to moving the turtle anywhere else, even for purposes of treatment.



Efforts to Rescue Cu Rua
Few years back, it was debatable whether a freshwater giant turtle indeed lives in the Hoan Kiem Lake. Then the turtle gained attention by its frequent resurfacing that had caught both superstitious and scientific explanation. Some believes that something might happen to the country or warning for weather changes. Others believe that it frequently resurfaced because it is sick and the polluted water of the lake is simply unbearable for it. Lesions were spotted when the turtle resurfaced and it alarmed authorities.
Ten government agencies were tasks to work for the rehabilitation and cleansing of the lake to make it more conducive for the turtle to live. The lake stretches about 1.6 kilometers. It functions as a significant landmark because a bridge built over it ends to a temple in a small island.
The efforts to rescue the legendary turtle consisted of people working hard to free the lake from bricks, plastic and other litters, pumping fresh and clean water into the lake, and piling sand to widen the small island in an attempt to lure it surface on the island for treatment. The turtle did not voluntarily resurface on the island so the first attempt to catch it by net was conducted. It failed and it boosted the belief of believers that the turtle is strong. Finally, at around five o’clock in the afternoon of April 3 this year, the infamous turtle was caught by a net and ready for treatment.
Treating this turtle and getting it back to its habitat alive and kicking serves both the concern of environmentalists to preserve this rare specie and satisfies the faithful belief that the turtle should be preserved as it played a great role for the country’s history.



A member of the rescue team poses next to the giant freshwater turtle after it was successfully captured in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem lake - April 3, 2011. (REUTERS)

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