The iconic butter cow featured at the Iowa State Fair received an unexpected make-over on Saturday after animal-rights activists snuck into the exhibit after closing and defaced the popular attraction with red paint.
"It's sad, because the butter cow is iconic of the Iowa State Fair," Lori Chappell, Iowa State Fair marketing director, told USA Today. "No one was hurt; no one was injured. The butter cow is fine."
The group "Iowans for Animal Liberation" claimed responsibility for the attack, which involved several vandals sneaking in after hours, scrawling "Freedom For All" on the display's glass window and soaking the butter cow in red paint.
The exhibit was cleaned and returned to normal by the time it opened to the public. Read more from USA Today.
The Des Moines Register reports that security has increased at the building since the incident and better locks have been installed. U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, called the butter cow an "emblematic of the greatness of the fair" and wanted to deliver a message to the vandals.
"I think to the people who did the distressing of the whole fun at the fair, two words: Get real," Grassley said.
No arrests have been made, though police are investigating.
Iowa's butter cow dates back to 1911 and have been a staple of the state's state fair ever since. Butter used for the sculpture can be reused for up to a decade.
Public responses have been varied, including confused at the message and standing behind agriculture on the Des Moines Register webpage.
"I think I'll go have a cheeseburger with a fried egg on top, with a glass of milk for lunch today, in my own protest," one person commented.
"It's one thing to stand up for what you believe in, but quite another to vandalize property or another person's hard work. Way to discredit everything you say/do in the future," another added.
The group's vandalism even feel flat with fellow vegans.
"As a vegan and animal rights believer, I am DEEPLY DISGUSTED by the actions of these extremist. This is the most ignorant and ineffective way to communicate a message. As clear with the comments, it has the opposite impact. These terryibly misguided individuals should be very ashamed. They've accomplished nothing. Respect and tolerance will always win - not dispicable actions," one commenter wrote.