The "little mermaid" statue in Copenhagen, the city's most famous monument, was vandalized on Tuesday by animal rights activists outraged over whaling, police said.
The culprits sprayed red paint on the statue, which sits on a rock by the waterside in the Danish capital, and left a message for authorities. "Danmark (sic), defend the whales of the Faroe Islands" was spray painted on the pavement in front of the monument. Copenhagen police confirmed the incident on Twitter, writing "The Little Mermaid was targeted by vandalism. We are on the case".
The Faroe Islands, a Danish autonomous archipelago in the North Atlantic, has a tradition of trapping mainly pilot whales in a bay or a fjord and killing them with long knives, an act called the "grindadrap".
The bronze mermaid statue represents a character from a classic tale by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It has been vandalized several times over a century as the mermaid's head was stolen in 1964 and 1998 and arm was cut off in 1984. She has been sprayed with paint before and thrown into the sea several times. In 2004, her head was covered with a burqa in protest against Turkey's application to become a member of the European Union.