By Pat Warren

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—A small fire causes a big disturbance at the University of Maryland College Park.

Pat Warren reports Testudo, beloved mascot and longtime icon of final exams, sustained a minor injury.

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For 80 years, University of Maryland students have made offerings to Testudo, a gift of the College Park class of 1933.

“The last time they came by for a special reunion was 1998 for their 65th reunion,” said Anne Turkos, University of Maryland archivist.

And in return for honors bestowed on him, Testudo bestows success at final exams.

But sometime around 1 a.m. Wednesday sacrifices surrounding Testudo caught fire.

Police reviewed camera footage and ruled the fire to be accidental.  The cause of the fire was due to a lamp shade being placed over a lit candle.

No one was hurt, but distraught students feared for the turtle.

“He’s kind of our one hope for finals week,” said Max Holmes, a junior who left instant burn relief spray for Testudo. “We all know what happened last night, and we all feel bad about it. It’s the best we can do.”

“It was very dramatic. He clearly came out unscathed,” said Deena Roseblatt.

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“Someone left a Band-Aid on him. He’s been polished, I’ve heard, a couple times. Very exciting for Maryland,” said Ronnie Howard.

Junior Anna Hemingway says she’s left an offering every exam she’s taken.

“We rub his nose. I like to leave tea bags ’cause I drink a lot of tea,” Hemingway said.

Burn spray and tea bags, anything to appease Testudo and pass those exams, short of resorting to studying.

The origins of the name Testudo are questionable.

“One of the theories is that there was a formation in the Roman army where the soldiers would hold their shields over their heads and that was called a Testudo,” Turkos said.

But it’s probably no coincidence that Testudo shields from failure at the time you take the test.

Testudo lives to see another day but the practice of offering sacrifices may change a bit.

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