THE iconic Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen has been daubed in blood-red paint by criminal activists accused of heartless vandalism.
The action has caused fury in Denmark where the bronze sculpture on the cities waterfront is held in huge affection by the nation.
Copenhagen police said they are investigating the criminal act which happened on May 30 though the culprits have not yet been identified.
Officials quickly got to work cleaning the paint off the 104 year old statue which depicts the mermaid from the famous fairy tale The Little Mermaid penned by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen in 1837.
The vandals were protesting against whale hunting around the Faroe Islands.
On the pavement in front of the monument, they painted the message “Denmark defend the whales of Faroe Islands.”
One blogger wrote: “This is an absolute disgrace.“Whatever the their opinions are why do they have to do this sort of thing at what is a national monument where parents take their children to tell them about the famous fairy tale?“They should find another way to make their point. This is just vandalism.”
Danish authorities allow the islanders to drive herds of pilot whales, which are not an endangered species, into a bay where they are caught and killed to provide meat for the islanders.
There are more than 100,000 pilot whales living around the Faroe Islands and just 800 are killed on average each year.
More than 25 activists from the Sea Shepherd group have been arrested over the past two years campaigning against the event, known as the Grind, and the organisation has in the past said it will turn to the courts to stop the whaling.
To counter claims of cruelty, the Faroese authorities said the whale drive was conducted in accordance with internal animal welfare laws.
A spokesman said: “Whale catches in the Faroe Islands are conducted in accordance with international law and globally recognised principles of sustainable development.“Catches are sustainable and fully regulated by national laws and regulations, with a strong emphasis on animal welfare, and a requirement today for participants to be licensed to use the mandatory methods and equipment.“Whale drives only take place in bays that are officially approved for the purpose, and only schools of whales found in close proximity to land, usually within one nautical mile, are driven ashore.“The law explicitly states that the hunt is to be conducted in such a way as to cause as little suffering to the whales as possible.“When the whales have beached themselves, they are killed. It takes a few seconds to kill each whale, and the entire pod is normally killed in less than ten minutes.“The use of a spinal lance, designed by a Faroese veterinarian, ensures that the whales lose consciousness and die within a few seconds.”
The mermaid’s head was stolen in 1964 and 1988 and her arm was cut off in 1984.
It is not the first time the Little Mermaid has felt the anger of demonstrators. The statue has twice been decapitated and even draped in a burqa in a protest against Turkey.