The Hoan Kiem turtle was once alive (Photo: VNA).

Hanoi (VNA) – A turtle, believed to has been residing in Hoan Kiem Lake in downtown Hanoi for hundred years, was reported dead on January 19, the lake’s management board announced.

The animal’s death resulted from natural causes and unfavourable weather conditions. The carcass will be transferred to be preserved at the Vietnam National Museum of Nature.

In 2011, Hanoi took the turtle out of the Hoan Kiem lake for medical treatment for more than three months. After that it was released into nature. The turtle had been examined periodically.

The elusive soft-shelled turtle has long been a beloved symbol of the capital.

According to a legend that dates back to the 15th century, King Le Loi, also known as Le Thai To, the founder of the Le Dynasty, found a holy turtle during a cruise on the then Luc Thuy, or Green Lake. The turtle told the king to return the sacred sword that had helped him defeat the northern Ming aggressors, now that peace had returned. Le Thai To unsheathed his sword and threw it to the turtle. He later named the lake "Hoan Kiem" (Lake of Returned Sword).

The story has been passed down for generations and recorded in history books.-VNA