Surprisingly fleet-footed giant tortoise escapes Japan zoo … again

Editor's note: Recently, Prairie Schooner - a leading American literary magazine - has launched the Prairie Fusion project which showcases the creative works of Vietnamese and American poets and artists. Sixteen Vietnamese poems stand side-by-side with 16 American poems to tell stories about aunts. The project also includes the calligraphy artworks that the well-known Vietnamese calligrapher Trinh Tuan created for the Vietnamese poems, together with the artworks using textiles on the theme "aunts" of the American artist Phyllis Moore. Poetry is not just a part of Vietnamese culture; it is a part of our lives. For thousands of years, ca dao, or Vietnamese folk poetry, has been transformed into lullabies and sung by mothers, aunts, and sisters across Vietnam. As these mothers, aunts, and sisters nurture our souls with poetry, they themselves should become the subjects of poetic interests. However, in curating poems on the theme "aunts" for Prairie Schooner's Fusion, I found out that aunts had hardly appeared in Vietnamese poetry, whereas many poems had been written about "mothers" and "sisters." I am incredibly thankful that many award-winning poets as well as emerging writers from all regions of Vietnam have created new poems about "aunts" following our call for submissions. The sixteen poems you will see here have been selected from those submitted and carefully translated from Vietnamese into English over the past many months. While each poem tells a unique tale about aunts, all of the sixteen poems work together to highlight the significant role that aunts play…... [read more]

Queen Elizabeth II is so fond of her corgis that she personally supervises their daily meal and pours the gravy for them herself, according to a new book on British royal pets since the 16th century. The book says that the royals "are suspicious of practically everyone outside their own family, so the only creatures they really trust are not of the human variety," according to a statement released with the book's publication. The book says the dogs' meals of fillet steak and chicken breast are prepared by a footman and served at 5:00pm sharp every day, with the 87-year-old queen pouring the gravy on the feast. Elizabeth currently has two corgis and two "dorgis", a cross with a dachshund, and has had more than 30 corgis during her reign. Prince Philip however loathes the waddling, short-legged animals because they yap too much, according to Hoey. The 300-page book traces the five-century love affair between the royals and their animals, starting with Henry VIII, a keen rider. He says the royals are known for an aversion to cats. Queen Victoria, who died in 1901, had 88 dogs and also received a number of exotic animals from foreign rulers including an elephant from Cameroon, a baby crocodile from Gambia, a giraffe and a giant tortoise from the Seychelles.... [read more]

Tourists angling at Ha Ba (Sea God) Tail, also known as Dua Beach, one of the scenic spots on Tre Island From afar, it looks like a giant tortoise swimming in the sea, and locals appropriately call it the Tortoise Island. It takes about an hour on an express boat from the Rach Gia Port to get to Tre Island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang. With its mountains, rocky beaches and coves, the island's rugged and wild beauty is eye-catching by itself, but it also offers places of cultural interest that add to its attraction. To discover the island fully, hiring a motorbike or a bicycle to ride along the 12-kilometer long road that circles it is the best option. The fresh and cool air from the sea, the wild flowers growing wildly on the mountains and some scenic spots make the ride a highly enjoyable activity. Around 15 minutes of riding our bicycles clockwise from the wharf, we arrived at the Ong Nam Hai Temple, which is dedicated to a five-ton whale that beached on the island in 2006. In Vietnam's fishing culture, whales are considered sacred. Legend has it that whales have saved the lives of many fishermen by pushing their boats through rough seas. Whenever whales arrive on land, dead or alive, local fishermen believe they bring luck and safety at sea. When they see a dead whale, they pull the carcass ashore and hold a burial ceremony. Several years later, they exhume the…... [read more]

Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, died on Sunday of unknown causes, the Galapagos National Park said. He was thought to be about 100 years old. A lumbering giant Galapagos tortoise known as Lonesome George lifts his head up during a walk in his protected home in the island chain in Puerto Ayora in this February 5, 2001 file photo. Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, died on June 24, 2012 of unknown causes, the Galapagos National Park said. He was thought to be about 100 years old. Photo: Reuters/Stringer/Files Lonesome George was found in 1972 and had become a symbol of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, which attracted some 180,000 visitors last year. "This morning the park ranger in charge of looking after the tortoises found Lonesome George, his body was motionless," the head of the Galapagos National Park, Edwin Naula, told Reuters. "His life cycle came to an end." George was believed to be around 100 years old and the last member of a species of giant tortoise from La Pinta, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park said. The giant Galapagos tortoises, which can live up to 200 years old, were among the species that helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution in the 19th century. The Galapagos National Park is considering embalming George's body so that it can be displayed in the park, Naula said. A spokesperson said…... [read more]

Two turtles found in Vietnam are listed among the world's 25 most endangered by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Conservation Coalition. Photo: Brian D. Horne/Wildlife Conservation Society The Red River giant softshell turtle and the Annam pond turtle are included in the list, according to a report issued Monday. With only four individuals remaining alive anywhere in the world, the Red River giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is one of the most threatened of all species. Wildlife Conservation Society veterinarians have been working with Chinese officials and other partners to breed the last known pair of these giant turtles, currently held at China's Suzhou Zoo. One lone reptile in Hoan Kiem Lake in downtown Hanoi is revered as a symbol of Vietnam's independence. The last animal remaining in the wild - also in Vietnam - escaped death when the reservoir it lives in burst in November 2008, washing it downriver. The turtle was caught by a fisherman who only released him after protracted negotiations with conservationists. The Annam pond turtle (Mauremys annamensis), a species restricted to the marshy wetlands of central Vietnam, was hunted down in the 1990s to supply the Chinese food trade, and only a handful are now left in the wild. There are large populations in captivity. They breed well and their repatriation to Vietnam as a first step towards reintroduction has already begun. According to the report, 17 of the 25 species are found in Asia, three each in South America and Africa, and…... [read more]

Tuoi Tre Cuoi Tuan (Youth Weekend) talked with Dr. Peter Werner from Germany's Dresden University about the project to clean up the Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, Hanoi's symbol. Dr. Werner is the chair of the ongoing $2.4 million project, which uses low-impact environmental German technology to remove sludge from the Sword Lake to help ensure Hanoi's legendary old tortoise is at less risk from environmental pollution. This project commenced experimentally last November on 1000sq.m and results have been good. The project will continue this March to clean up the whole lake. TTCT: How did you become involved in this project and when did the project begin? Dr. Peter Werner:This is a long story. We had the idea to improve the water environment of the Sword Lake around seven years ago. At that time everybody worried that this was a difficult and sensitive job because the Sword Lake is a holy site to Vietnamese people where this giant tortoise was living. We contacted Prof. Ha Dinh Duc, an expert on the giant tortoise in the Sword Lake, to discuss the project. Prof. Duc agreed with our project and took action to help promote it. Our measures are very gentle and friendly to the environment. It can help improve the living environment of the old tortoise and doesn't make any big changes to the lake's ecological system. We conducted the project step by step, in a natural way. We dug and funneled the mud into a pipe, layer by layer. This method…... [read more]

A giant tortoise, thought by many to be several hundred years old, surfaced yesterday at the Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword), Ha Noi's most prominent landmark, for around three hours from 10 am to 1 pm, attracting and perplexing passers-by as the animal is said to be keeper of a holy sword used to dispel the Chinese invaders in the 15th century. After appearing near the surface, the tortoise then crawled on the tower in the middle of the lake in front of the Le Thai To-Hang Trong crossroads for 'sunbath'. The tortoise is some 1.5 meters long, has a width of 700 cm and two hollows on its shell. It has come to the surface of the lake 76 times this year, the last time being on October 30, said tortoise expert Ha Dinh Duc, a professor at Ha Noi National University. But the tortoise rarely both surfaces and sunbathes on the Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) as long as it did this time, Duc added.Legend has it that the giant tortoise is the keeper of the Sword that King Le Loi used to fight China's Ming dynasty invaders in the 15th century.According to a hydrographical specialists and tortoise experts, climate change and environmental pollution could explain the fabled creatures more frequent ventures out of the water.... [read more]

(CPV)- Located in the Northeastern of Vietnam, with a total size of 1553 square kilometers and nearly 2000 big and small islands, Ha Long Bay rises as a gigantic work of the Creator and a sparkling chain of jewels up from the sea. Global geology and the value of the landscape of Ha Long Bay have been recognized as a world's heritages the two times by UNESCO. Along this, voting for Ha Long Bay in the nomination of "world seven natural wonders" shows our awareness of preserving and honoring the unique natural masterpiece. Ha Long Bay - precious geological museum Ha Long Bay has passed through a geological process of creating thousand-meter thick limestone stratums from 340 million years ago and a karst erosion over more than 20 million years to form a system of rocky islands. The denudation of rain-water and the erosion by sea water has created the most profuse cave system in the world. Among the 1969 islands in Ha Long Bay, only 989 islands are named. At present, people do not know how many caves are in Ha Long Bay and only 10 caves are being used by the tourism industry. The 1969 islands in Ha Long Bay represent 1969 figures. Each island rises from the blue sea as a grandiose sculptural masterpiece which was made by the Creator for thousands of years ago. Trong Mai Island looks like two chickens swimming around on the sea. Rua island brings the image of giant tortoise with half-closed…... [read more]

A giant tortoise and an orphaned baby hippo who forged an unusual friendship after the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia are the stars of a new Web site so fans can follow their progress. Mzee, a 130-year-old Aldabran tortoise, became a surrogate parent and inseparable friend to hippo Owen who was washed out to sea off the coast of Kenya, rescued by villagers and taken to a wildlife park where the tortoise lived. The devastating Indian Ocean tsunami that hit in December 2004 left 230,000 people killed or missing, including 170,000 in Indonesia. The animals' friendship came to international attention when New York-based father and daughter team, Craig and Isabella Hatkoff, teamed up with the park's chief environmentalist Paula Kahumbu to write a book about the pair, "Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship." They have now released a second book, published by Scholastic, chronicling the deepening friendship, with Owen and Mzee living, sleeping and playing together, but also creating a language of their own. "They have created sounds unique to hippo or to tortoise and use gentle nods and pushes to communicate with one another," said a spokeswoman from Scholastic which has just released "Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship." The second installment in the animals' story follows their remarkable friendship at Haller Park Animal Sanctuary near Mombasa, Kenya, which is operated by Lafarge EcoSystems, a unit of Kenyan cement maker Bamburi. But as well as updating readers on the friendship, Hatkoff's publishing company, Turtle…... [read more]

Three men from three different countries share the same target in their lives: to research and protect the vast species of turtles in Vietnam. The trio has worked together for years, journeying to all corners of forests and sanctuaries in the country to research and protect the reptile. Making up the impassioned group is Englishman Tim McCormack, Douglas Hendrie from the US and a local conservationist Bui Dang Phong, who was born, lives and works in Cuc Phuong national park. Douglas arrived in Vietnam in 1996 with a passion for researching turtle species, and has worked on conservation in the country since then. "Turtles in Asia are increasingly being hunted for meat, and Vietnam has long become a transit place for smugglers," he said, explaining his reason for coming to the country. Douglas said he had chanced upon some rare sightings during his stay in the country. "I was welcomed by a giant tortoise whose head emerged just above the water at Hoan Kiem Lake when I have arrived in Hanoi. He was just 2 meters from my feet," he said. "Locals explained it as a good omen because a sighting is so rare," he said. Tim's story is different. He describes himself a man with love for wild animals and once, by chance, he read news that Cuc Phuong national park in Vietnam was building a conservation center for tortoises. He flew to Vietnam after graduating from university, knowing he could realize his passion for the reptile at Cuc…... [read more]

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