By: Mary Beth McAndrews
A deceased Yangtze giant softshell turtle has been found in Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. The turtle weighed about 440 pounds and is estimated to be around 100 years old.
This turtle is a legendary symbol in Vietnam and news of its death has lead to country-wide grief. There was only one of this species of turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake, and it was thought to be Kim Qui, or the Golden Turtle God.
However, this turtle's death does not just have superstitious significance; this species is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. This was one of only four Yangtze giant softshell turtles left in the whole world. One resides in another lake in Vietnam and two others live in a zoo in China. Intensive breeding efforts are being made with the pair in China to help save the species.
Tim McCormack of the Asian Turtle Program told AFP that these turtles are "possibly the rarest species on the planet and definitely the rarest turtle species...[This loss is] a great blow."