Cu Rua has died.
He, who was actually a girl, was more than just one of only three left in the world, a 360 lb. Yangtze giant soft shelled turtle (Rafts swinhoei).
He was also a mythic symbol of Vietnamese independence and longevity and his death has spiritual significance in a superstitious Confucian country. His age has never been determined but it is said he/she had lived for centuries in Hanoi's central lake, Hoan Kiem Lake also known as the "Lake of the Returned Sword." Legend tells of a magic sword borrowed from a dragon king, fought to drive out the Chinese, returning it back to a turtle (Cu Rua) back in the 15th century.
His passing has prompted an outpouring of sadness, a bad omen, just when Vietnam's Communist Party was to select new leaders.
It is said by the Buddhists that, "Cu Rua's death is a bad omen. The gods are about to show the world what is about to happen."
Surprisingly, of the four animals the turtle is considered by the Vietnamese as sacred as the dragon, the phoenix and the unicorn. The turtle the only actual true animal, an important link to "the here and now."