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Campus & Community

Where’s Testudo?

UMD’s Mascot Comes in Many Different Forms Around Campus. See How Many You Know

By Karen Shih ’09

Mascot Testudo rubs bronze Testudo's nose

Mascot Testudo rubs bronze Testudo's nose for good luck. UMD's favorite terrapin comes in many different forms around campus, from statues to collages to topiaries.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

If you’ve ever rubbed Testudo’s bronze nose for good luck, snagged a shell-fie with the University of Maryland’s mascot during a tailgate or slapped a carapace sticker on your laptop, you might think you know the campus terrapin.

But you may be missing out on the many other iterations across UMD—whether camouflaged as a mural made of hundreds of photos, underfoot as a walking path or even up in a skybridge.

Testudo wasn’t always the university’s mascot. In the first decades of the Maryland Agricultural College, students were known “Aggies” as well as “Old Liners,” after the state’s nickname. But in 1933, when they wanted better representation, then-football coach Curley Byrd, who later became UMD president, suggested the terrapin. It was a good fit: The student newspaper had been called The Diamondback since 1921, and the turtle is native to the Chesapeake Bay (and eventually became the official state reptile).

[For Testudo, a Happy 90th]

The Class of 1933 donated the original bronze statue of Testudo—which became the target of many inter-school heists until it was filled with concrete to make it too heavy to move—that now sits in front of McKeldin Library. It was modeled after a real terrapin, which was taxidermied and preserved in a climate-controlled box in University Archives, viewable only on special occasions.

As Testudo celebrates 90 years as mascot this year (check out all these historic versions!), see if you can identify these turtle-y awesome terrapins.

Download text file for Testudo quiz

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