Can you imagine UMD without Testudo? Less than 100 years ago, we didn’t have a mascot until the Class of 1933 gathered funds amidst the Great Depression to bring Testudo to campus.
In a letter dated Jan. 20, 1933, Byrd asked the Holland Sea Food Company for “one big Diamondback Terrapin of Maryland variety, and not one of those that come from North Carolina. I want it to use as a model for a sculpture.”
Byrd purchased the live terrapin, Archie, and sent him to Rhode Island, where a sculptor created a 300-pound bronze Testudo. The statue was unveiled at a ceremony on June 2, 1933. Archie, the live Testudo, had the honor of unveiling the statue. With a string tied around his neck that was also attached to a cloth covering the statue, Archie sauntered away on command and the statue was revealed. Unfortunately, a heat wave swept through the area that day and Archie died as a result of the oppressive heat and his efforts at the ceremony.
Today, Archie enjoys an air-conditioned home in the Hornbake Library and the Testudo statue gifted to us by the Class of 1933, keeps watch over McKeldin Mall. It serves as a good luck charm to students who rub his nose and leave him gifts of food, bicycles, and dorm room doors—all in the hopes of succeeding on their finals.
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