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The luck of Testudo, UMd.'s mascot

Testudo has has been the mascot at the University of Maryland for more than 80 years.  Students go out of their way to touch his nose.  

<p>University of Maryland mascot, Testudo.</p>

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA9) -- Graduation Day is Wednesday at the University of Maryland.

Thousands will walk toward a new beginning with diplomas and degrees.

They’ll look back and reflect on the good times, their friends and definitely the school’s mascot, Testudo.

Testudo has has been the mascot at the University of Maryland for more than 80 years. Students go out of their way to touch his nose.

"Students and faculty actually believe he brings us good luck which you can get by rubbing his nose," says Dan Page, a student at the University of Maryland.

Anne Turkos knows a lot about Testudo. She’s the University’s archivist and she also has around 600 turtles in her office.

"Testudo was frequently kidnapped," said Turkos.

That’s right, in the good old days, rival schools would kidnap the 300 pound mascot.

"Testudo traveled as far as Florida. Went to the University of Virginia," said Turkos.

In 1947, students at Johns Hopkins took Testudo and buried him in the woods. Two hundred police officers were called to the scene.

"That’s what was reported in the newspapers," said Turkos.

Maryland got even — by giving haircuts to the thieves.

Today, Testudo is anchored to his pedestal and his traveling days are over. He spends all of his time handing out luck. And, to get extra luck, students leave offerings. Things like snack crackers, donated cookies, a basketball, even a helmet.

During final exams, when students need all the help they can get, the offerings become more impressive.

"There’s been all kinds of weird and bizarre things," said Turkos.

"There's been toilets. I think there was a Christmas tree one time. A sofa, there’s been a water fountain, there’s been a light post."

"Somebody put a car here one year it was ridiculous. I was like what?" said student, John Koroma.

Many students believe 50 percent of their grades come from studying. The other half come from the magical powers of an 83-year-old copper terrapin.

At one time, the University had a live terrapin as its mascot but during the 1933 unveiling of the terrapin sculpture, it died from heat exposure.

As for the offerings that pile up around Testudo, they are picked up several times a day and taken to the University’s trash facility.