Usually rubbing the bronze statue of the University of Maryland’s mascot, a diamondback terrapin, is considered good luck, especially at final exams. Or some bring the Testudo, as it is known, gifts — books, candles, cigarettes, food, charm bracelets, alcohol.
But the statue, which sits in front of McKeldin Library, was found set on fire early Wednesday morning. A student police aide reported the fire, and along with a library staff member put it out before police arrived. University President Wallace D. Loh said on Twitter that the statue is not damaged.
News that Testudo had been set on fire created a firestorm of sorts on social media with many condemning the incident, and others calling for a full-scale investigation to find the perpetrator(s).
Here is what one of the remarks said:
Wow really… I know finals are hard but burning testudo is a little extreme ✋ pic.twitter.com/rCeDpwLVK5
— Ren Okojie (@CallMeRen_O) December 18, 2013
Police at the campus said they found that offerings left to Testudo — notes and books — were set on fire on top of the statue.
The fire in front of Testudo tonight. The UMD tradition of finals offerings has officially gone too far pic.twitter.com/h1PHPleYXS
The university president — Wallace D. Loh — posted on Twitter Wednesday that he was “happy to report that there was no damage to Testudo. …Testudo is ready to continue supporting our #UMD community!”
The cause of the blaze is under investigation and campus police said “malicious intent has not been ruled out,” according to a press release from their department.
“We won’t know more until our detectives look over everything,” said Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas, a spokeswoman for the campus police department.
— Marissa Parra (@MarParNews) December 18, 2013
— Patrick Ronk (@PRonkkkk) December 18, 2013
— Daniel Gallen (@danieljtgallen) December 18, 2013