Swans removed from Hanoi’s central lake as deemed at odds with turtle legend

By Ba Do, Vo Hai   February 5, 2018 | 06:30 pm PT
Swans removed from Hanoi’s central lake as deemed at odds with turtle legend
Swans on the Sword Lake in Hanoi on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Hai
Despite public support, the new attraction did not last more than a day.

New swans brought to Hanoi’s iconic Sword Lake on Monday were removed the same night after some scholars said the image did not suit the lake’s history with turtles.

A group of workers brought all 12 black and white swans onto a car and left the lake at around 10 p.m., just hours after the birds amazed many tourists and locals.

The Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Ltd., which introduced the swans, said it has hoped the swans would become a popular attraction, but the initiative turned out to be controversial.

"Several scientists believe that swans do not suit the history and culture of the Sword Lake," an official from the public company said.

The swans, imported from Belgium, have been moved to Thien Quang Lake around 15 minutes drive away.

The Sword Lake goes with a legend in which a golden turtle god surfaced to reclaim a sword that had been given to King Le Loi in the 15th century to help him fight Chinese invaders.

Covering 12 hectares (30 acres), the lake is possibly the most popular sight of the capital. A rare giant turtle loved by many Hanoians died in the lake in January 2016 due to pollution.

The public drainage firm has spent the last two months dredging 57,000 cubic meters of mud from the lake and pumping in fresh water, after its surveys found high levels of coliform and E. coli, as well as toxic gases and metals.

Ha Dinh Duc, a biology professor who spent years protecting Hanoi’s turtle, said that the Sword Lake is a holy place and the introduction of any new animals has to be careful.

"It is not a place that you can just put any animal. If we raise swans there, it will become the swan lake. Let the Sword Lake be itself," Duc said.

In May last year, Hanoi government and its large public also rejected a proposal to build a turtle statue by the lake. Cultural officials said the lake is a national heritage site and any construction around it must be "carefully considered," while the public said they want their public space.

But the lively swans have created a different debate.

Many other people, including Duc's colleagues, are on board with the change.

Professor Nguyen Lan Dung, a biologist, said that "Putting swans in the Sword Lake is suitable. They create a nice attraction and they do not affect the environment."

A poll by VnExpress drew nearly 15,000 people in less than a day and more than 70 percent of them supported the feathery addition.

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