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Iowa State Fair's 'Butter Cow' Vandalized; Group Claims Responsibility

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- An animal rights group has taken credit for vandalizing the Iowa State Fair's famous Butter Cow and its refrigerated case.

Iowans for Animal Liberation said they were the ones who splashed red paint on the iconic bovine. The words "Freedom for all" were also painted on the glass window thousands of fair attendees look through to catch a glimpse at the butter sculpture.

"The paint represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms and dairies," read a press release from the animal rights organization sent out Monday morning.

But, if the vandals hoped to disrupt the fair, Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright said they failed in their mission.

"It was an inconvenience, that's what it boils down to," Bright said Monday. "I think they focused on the Butter Cow because the Iowa State Fair is known for the Butter Cow. I think they tried to hinder people going to see the Butter Cow and, basically, it didn't work."

According to the release, members of the group hid inside the Agriculture Building in the fairgrounds the night of August 10 and came out of hiding after the fair closed down for the day. Members picked the lock of the refrigerated case with a screwdriver and proceeded to vandalize the sculpture and case.

Bright said the vandalism was discovered Sunday morning. Sarah Pratt, the cow's sculptor, came in, scraped off the red paint and fixed the cow, Bright said.

"The fair goers were thrilled with that," Bright said. "They got to see her working on it."

The group said the brazen act was meant as a "wake up call" to those who eat meat, eggs and dairy and use other animal products.

"You are directly supporting suffering and misery on the largest scale the world has ever known," the release stated.

Bright said the culprits will face vandalism charges and could face breaking and entering charges. Investigators are reviewing security footage and hoping to find images of the perpetrators. Authorities believe the vandalism happened between 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Bright said.

The investigation is ongoing, but Bright said finding the vandals might not be easy.

"That's going to be very difficult," he said. "We're going to try our best to find out who did it and charges will be filed."

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