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Cow cut from 600 lbs. of butter targeted by animal rights group at Iowa State Fair

Cow sculpture made of 600 lbs. of butter was covered in red paint by members of an animal rights group who snuck into the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines over the weekend. KCCI

(CBS/AP) DES MOINES, Iowa - A 600 pound butter sculpture of a cow that has become an icon of the Iowa State Fair was covered in red paint by an animal welfare group intent on sending a message in support of veganism.

Iowans for Animal Liberation claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in an email Sunday night that is members hid in the Des Moines fair's Agriculture Building on Saturday night and emerged after closing, broke into a refrigerated room where the sculpted cow and other butter likenesses are displayed and poured red paint over the butter bovine beloved by many.

The words "Freedom for all" were scrawled on a display window.

"The paint represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms, and dairies," the group said in its statement. "We intend this action to serve as a wake up call to all who continue to consume meat, dairy, eggs, leather, and all animal products: You are directly supporting suffering and misery on the largest scale the world has ever known."

Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright said Monday that fair staffers discovered the damage Sunday morning. A sculptor scraped off damaged sections of the cow and reapplied new butter while other workers cleaned off paint elsewhere in the room.

The display area pened as usual at 9 a.m. Sunday.

The cow comprised of about 600 pounds of butter covering a wood and metal frame, has been a part of the fair since 1911.

Describing the vandalism as "more of an inconvenience than anything else," Sgt. Bright said security procedures at the 450 acre fairground in east Des Moines would remain the same.

"Everyone comes out to see the butter cow," he said. "The butter cow looks good now and everything is back to normal."

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