- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A bronze rabbit inside the ear of late South African leader Nelson Mandela, as depicted in a newly unveiled 29.5-foot sculpture, has raised some eyebrows and officials are demanding it be removed.

The sculpture, created by Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, is billed as the biggest statue of the former leader. The small bunny is apparently a discrete signature by the sculptors, after officials told them they couldn’t sign their names, the Associated Press reported.

It was unveiled outside the government complex in Pretoria on Dec. 16, a day after Mr. Mandela’s funeral. Officials immediately moved to have the rabbit extracted, and the government appointed Koketso Growth to manage the project.

“It doesn’t belong there,” Mogomotsi Mogodiri, a department spokesman, told the AP. “The statue represents what everyone in South Africa is proud of.”

His department said in a statement that there are discussions on “how best to retain the integrity of the sculpture without causing any damage or disfigurement.”

Koketso Growth CEO Dali Tambo said he was furious when he heard about the rabbit.

“That statue isn’t just a statue of a man, it’s the statue of a struggle, and one of the most noble in human history,” he told AP. “So it’s belittling, in my opinion, if you then take it in a jocular way and start adding rabbits in the ear.”