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In Memory of the 24 Hours When Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake Had Swans

Less than a day after they were introduced, twelve swans were removed from Hanoi’s famous Hoan Kiem Lake, despite widespread public support for the attraction.

On Monday, February 5, residents living near the Hoan Kiem Lake, which is famous for its previous turtle inhabitant, were delighted at the sight of a flock of black and white swans frolicking on the lake's surface. According to Tuoi Tre, the Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Ltd. decided to release six pairs of swans on a trial basis in the lake.

The swans were imported from Belgium and selected for their ability to adapt to the lake. The company planned to introduce more of the creatures if the twelve birds could survive in the long run. Little did they realize that their pilot program would have to be cut short as it has ruffled some feathers.

The swans were brought to the city’s iconic Sword Lake to charm tourists and locals, but were quickly relocated after some scientists claimed that the animals were not compatible with the lake's cultural and historical values, reports VnExpress.

The swans in Hanoi's short-lived swan project. Video via YouTube channel VTC14.

An official from the public company explained, “Several scientists believe that swans do not suit the history and culture of the Sword Lake.” Ha Dinh Duc, a biology professor who spent years protecting the lake’s turtle elaborated. "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.

At approximately 10pm on the same day, employees of The Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Ltd., which is also tasked with cleaning up the polluted lake, took the birds to Thien Quang Lake, around 15 minutes drive away.

However, not everyone agrees that the swans did not belong. Some 70% of nearly 15,000 respondents to a VnExpress poll supported the birds. Even some scientists agreed: 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 well-known legend claims that in the 15th century, Emperor Le Loi returned a magical sword to a golden turtle god in the lake after using it to defeat the occupying Chinese. The story furthered the emblematic importance of the extremely rare Yangtze giant softshell turtle that lived in its waters until 2016.

[Photo via VnExpress]

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