Local News

Two UNC students cited in Chapel Hill cow-tipping prank

Posted August 24, 2012 1:04 p.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2012 9:57 p.m. EDT

— Police cited two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students with damage to personal property Friday after a cow sculpture near campus was vandalized – the second this week.

Town officials said the "Cow House" sculpture on East Franklin Street near McCorkle Place was upended late Thursday, despite a 400-pound concrete block anchoring the artwork to the ground.

The cow-tipping caused a house that was part of the sculpture to break off from the cow, officials said.

The sculpture was created by Jane Filer, a Chapel Hill artist of more than 30 years, who said the piece shows how the cow supports humanity.

"It's a slap in the face, what happened here," she said. "It's a sense of invasion."

Ryan William Tyson, 22, and Ryan Matthew Bradley, 21, were cited in the case.

"We have someone on the scene assessing the physical damage to Cow House and the cost to repair or replace her, which will determine the charges the suspects will face," Ron Fox, owner and vice president of CowParade Global Limited, said in a statement.

Filer said she isn't sure how long it will take to repair the piece.

The sculpture is part of CowParade North Carolina 2012. More than 80 life-size cow sculptures will be on display across the Triangle through December and then will be auctioned in January to raise money for the North Carolina Children's Hospital.

Late Tuesday or early Wednesday, vandals stole an oversized bow tie from a sculpture designed by fashion designer and UNC alumnus Alexander Julian. The Children's Hospital has said it wouldn't press charges if the bow tie was returned by Aug. 30.

"We are concerned this vandalism could permanently hurt or damage the cows and lower their potential value when they go to auction," Crystal Miller, director of the N.C. Children's Promise, the fundraising arm of Children's Hospital, said in a statement. "The cows inspire a whimsical sense of wonder when you see them, but we need to the public to understand they are not toys. They're fragile works of art that will benefit many serious ill children from all across the state."

Filer estimated "Cow House" to be worth $7,500 to $10,000, and the vandalism angered her.

"We put a lot of work into that cow. We wanted it to be spectacular, an eye catcher, something really cool," she said. "The more interesting the work, the more people want to interact with it. But for this to happen? This is a slap in the face."

CowParade is part of an international public art event that has raised more than $30 million for its nonprofit partners in 75 cities since 1999.