Sacred Giant Turtle In Vietnam Needs A Vet

Thousands of people in Vietnam are worried about a giant turtle they consider sacred. A sacred object is something that you worship because you believe it is very important.

The turtle is endangered. There are thought to be only four of them left. It is a giant turtle, weighing about 200 kilograms. Its Latin (scientific) name is Rafetus swinhoei.

More than its rarity, the turtle has a legend. It is said to be the same mythical creature that helped to defend a Vietnamese king from some Chinese warriors nearly 600 years ago. While many people in Vietnam believe in the legend, experts say the turtle is most likely 80 to 100 years old.

But this turtle is in trouble; it needs medical help. It has some sores on its neck and legs and the people are panicking. There have been stories on the front page of Vietnam newspapers about the turtle.

The problem may be the lake the turtle swims in, which is very polluted. The lake is full of trash and sewage from people’s toilets.

Hundreds of Vietnamese people have been working around the clock to try and clean the lake by pumping clean water in and taking garbage out.

They even made a little island in the lake using sandbags so the turtle can rest. The “island” even has its own little pond.

They tried to get the turtle to go onto the island, but it wouldn’t. They even got the military to help, but the turtle kept escaping from them. It didn’t know, of course, that they were trying to help it.

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Hundreds of Vietnamese people created an island for the turtle.  They thought the island would help it get away from the polluted water.  However, the turtle doesn’t want to go to the island. 

Brainstorm other suggestions that the Vietnamese people could do in order to help the turtle.  Use pictures and words to explain your ideas to a friend, teacher or parent. 

Reading Prompt
This article includes several challenging words, such as sacred, endangered, legend, Latin, scientific and rarity.  Underline or highlight any word that you find challenging.  While you were reading, how did you try to figure out the meaning of these words? 

If you have difficulty with any of the words, look up their definitions in a dictionary. 

Primary and Junior
predict the meaning of and quickly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including:
• semantic (meaning) cues
• syntactic (language structure) cues
• graphophonic (phonological and graphic) cues (OME, Reading: 3.2)

Grammar Feature: Semi-colon
In the article, a semi-colon is used in the following sentence: “But this turtle is in trouble; it needs medical help.”  A semi-colon (;) is used in the middle of a sentence to separate two ideas.  In the above sentence the two ideas are: 1. “But this turtle is in trouble” and 2. “it needs medical help.” 

Why do you think the journalist chose to use a semi-colon instead of writing these two ideas separately (i.e. “But this turtle is in trouble.  It needs medical help.”)?