Kidnapping of University of Maryland’s mascot Testudo

From GW Encyclopedia

Testudo under confinement, 1949


During the 1948 football season, GW students kidnapped the bronze University of Maryland turtle "Testudo" as part of a fraternity prank. Below are articles from the yearbook and student newspaper documenting the caper:

Letter to the Editor
Do YOU have Testudo?

Dear Sir,

Before the football season has actually gotten under way we find ourselves with a problem on, or you might say off, our hands whose solution depends in large measure on the cooperation we receive from you.

Our massive mascot Testudo the Terrapin has been abducted. His kidnapping a few mornings ago has excited considerable concern on our part of his safety and, far more important, for the questionable conduct inherent in such an action. We have reason to believe that he was removed from his pedestal by members of your student body and our administrative officials have asked me to appeal to you for help in returning him.

We are on a spot (students everywhere) now and in the next few years regarding the extent we express our exuberance and school spirit away from our respective campus. I feel that it is imperative that member schools playing on good terms on the athletic field deal with each other even more fairly on the sidelines. Therefore, I urgently request your kind assistance in locating Testudo.

I’ve always believed that the most valuable feature of school spirit is that we carry it along with us; it does not carry us.


Louis Eisenhauer
President, Student
Government Association

“Operation Testudo” Waged On SAE House Last Week

Latest reports indicate that Maryland University students have adopted a “get firm” policy in their quest for “Testudo,” the 400-pound bronze terrapin mascot recently missing from his campus pedestal.

Last Wednesday night a task force of some 500 College Park stalwarts, following up an underground tip, surrounded the University chapter house of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. While a mobile unit of approximately one hundred cars encircled the block, advance scouts mingled with SAE rushes in an attempt to ferret out the whereabouts of the traditional symbol of the Black and Gold.

Two secret agents, placing fraternal loyalty paramount, contacted SAE rush chairman, Ken Parkinson, to warn him of their fellow students’ intent to “tear the place apart,” should it be discovered that Testudo was being held captive.

Brother Parkinson immediately reported this development to President Don Sparks and Brother John Douglass, who combined forces to display superior diplomacy in calming the outraged Marylanders. When peaceful relations were thus established representatives of the raiders enjoyed a safe conduct tour through the entire house.

Finally convinced of the fallacy of placing faith in unconfirmed rumors, the valiant Old Liners evidenced a noble sense of camaraderie by blending thirty of their finer voices to the strains of “Hail To The Purple,” “Break Out That Old Silver Goblet,” and “Friends,” as they gathered to execute a strategic retreat.

Travels of Maryland’s “Testudo”

Spurred on by the heart-rendering plea of Maryland’s Student Government President, published in the Hatchet two weeks ago, a special group of investigators have painstakingly unearthed a few pertinent facts concerning Testudo the Terrapin.

Testudo, you will remember, is the University of Maryland mascot, a 400-pound lump of bronze which disappeared under mysterious circumstances over a month ago. Since that time the local university and the sports worlds have been full of conjecture as to his probable whereabouts. Postcards from all over the country have poured into Washington newspaper offices and universities. Some were signed “Voice of the Turtle;” others claimed to have seen Testudo wandering around or floating down a river. One report from Jacksonville, Florida, insisted he was floating out to sea with a school of porpoises.

Hatchet investigators have determined that Testudo was definitely in Reno, Nevada for a while. Whether or not he was involved in divorce proceedings is not known at present, but it is certain that the terrain did take advantage of open gambling there. A photograph of the mascot was received from an unknown source showing him indulging in a card game in a secret room of one of Reno’s better clubs. A second photo, showing the terrapin in a cell, seems to substantiate reports that he was kidnapped. What the purpose of such an abduction might be is not certain.

A letter signed “Committee of Nine for the Protection, Preservation and Proper Disposal of Terrapin,” was sent to the President of the University of Maryland and to key newspapers through out the country. Written in military form, it promised the safe return of Testudo, alias “Twerp the Terp”, at the “proper psychological moment”. When that will be is anybody’s guess. Any information concerning the terrapin will be greatly appreciated by the Hatchet Staff.

“Travels of Testudo”

Testudo thought he’d take a trip…
To Reno… loaded up his grip… With marked cards, dice…
Boy, what a snap…I’ll show those guys some poker, crap…
Roulette like they ain’t seen before”…
He gleefully plopped across the floor…
Proceeded to the “611”…
He kept on tossing ‘leven-seven …
He cleaned up every poker shark …
For Harnold’s Club … “I’ll show those guys”…
But, someone put a “John Law” wise…
With bloody brawl, they roped him down…
And took him to the coop in town…
He spent the long night watching stars…
Through the cold and heavy prison bars…
Just bread and water… no fat bugs…
Testudo found he hated jugs…
By gad, he couldn’t even wheedle…
Some morphine for his trusty needle…
The next mail carried a letter far…
To G.W.U.’s registrar…
Now, I’m not sure, but have a hunch…
That they’re a very particular bunch…
Some time later, slow death connected…
Our boy, Testudo, had been rejected!

Document Information

Images: 1
Photographic Credit: Cherry Tree, 1949
Author or Source: Hatchet, Oct.5, Oct. 19 1948; Cherry Tree, 1949
Document Location: University Archives
Date Added to Encyclopedia: January 24, 2007
Prepared by: Lyle Slovick

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