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Why There's A Rabbit In The Ear Of A Nelson Mandela Statue

Mandela statue hid a rabbit in the right ear of it after not being allowed to sign their art work where they wanted to.
Posted at 1:50 PM, Jan 22, 2014

Artists who sculpted a statue of late South African leader Nelson Mandela decided to leave their own trademark on it, and the South African government isn't pleased. 

The sculptors decided to hide this tiny little rabbit in the right ear of the Mandela statue erected in the city of Pretoria. South African newspaper Beeld reports the artists put the bunny in the ear after government officials told them they would not be allowed to sign their work on the statue's trousers. 

BBC points out the use of a rabbit was also a symbolic gesture by the artists. In Afrikaans, the word for hare is "haas," which also means "haste" or "urgent" in English. 

The statue was unveiled Dec. 16, the day after Mandela's burial. (Via GlobalPost

At the request of the South African government, the sculptors have apologized. A spokesman for the government said, "We accept their apology and that their intentions were honourable." (Via Times Live

The government has also demanded the sculptors remove the rabbit. ​The BBCreports both sides are in talks about when and how to remove the rabbit without damaging the statue. But, as The Guardian notes, this isn't the first time artists have used their works to make a statement. 

Michelangelo's statue of Lorenzo de' Medici depicts the ruler resting his arm on a money box — a slight at the medieval ruler's wealth. The Guardian writes: "A rabbit? That's getting off lightly."

Mandela died Dec. 5 of last year after battling a chronic lung infection. He was buried 10 days later.