''Extinct Turtle'' discovered in Northern Vietnam

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Washington, Apr 19 (UNI) ''Swinhoe's soft-shell turtle,'' a near extinct in wild, has been found in the wetlands of North Vietnam living.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has just announced the discovery of a critically endangered turtle in northern Vietnam that previously was thought to be extinct in the wild, Science Daily reported.

Experts from the Zoo's Asian Turtle Programme confirmed that they have identified the only known living specimen of a Swinhoe's soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) in nature.

After three years of searching lakes and wetlands along the Red River in northern Vietnam, researchers sponsored by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society, turned their focus to a lake just west of Hanoi, where local residents claimed to have occasionally seen the gigantic soft-shell turtle.

''This is an incredibly important discovery because the Swinhoe's turtle is one of the most critically endangered species of turtle in the world,'' the Vietnam-based coordinator Doug Hendrie, of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Asian Turtle Programme said.

''This species has legendary status among the people of Vietnam, so this is perhaps an opportunity for the legend to live on,'' he said.

Other than the turtle discovered by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Asian Turtle Programme, only three of the giant turtles are known to remain. Two of them are at zoos' in China, and one is in the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. The Swinhoe's soft-shell turtle is considered by many in Vietnam to be a national treasure.

UNI XC SZ KP1926

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