May 30 (UPI) -- Copenhagen's iconic Little Mermaid statue was doused with red paint by anti-whaling protesters, police said Tuesday.
"The Little Mermaid was targeted by vandalism. We are on the case," a police statement said.
The bronze sculpture, long a beloved Copenhagen tourist attraction, was discovered covered in red paint on Tuesday morning, with the slogan, "Danmark, defend the whales of the Faroe Islands" written in red paint on a nearby sidewalk.
The Faroe Islands, autonomous territory between Iceland and Britain administered by Denmark, has been the site of organized killings of whales. Earlier in May, the activist group Sea Shepherd Scandinavia submitted a request for an investigation of the practice to the European Commission. It alleges that Danish police, naval and customs officials have been facilitating, and in some cases participating, in the practice known as Grindadrap, in which whales are lured into an ocean inlet and then killed by hand.
While Denmark is subject to EU laws regarding the killing of whales, the Faroe Islands are not.
Lukas Erichsen of Sea Shepherd Scandinavia denied his group was behind the Copenhagen vandalism.
The statue, installed on a park shore in 1913, has been the focus of political protest. Its head was sawed off and stolen in 1964 and 1998, and her arms were cut off in 1984. She has often been spray-painted, and unbolted from the rock on which she sits and thrown into the water. In 2004 her head was covered with a burqa to protest the Turkish application for entry into the EU.