Anyone who's been in Prague in the last couple of months will have seen hundreds of brightly painted scupltures of cows on the city's streets. Most locals and tourists seem to like the Cow Parade, as it's called, but the bovine sculptures are evidently not to everyone's liking, with many of them having been vandalized. Now organizers have struck back, with ads calling the vandalism an "international disgrace", and drawing attention to the fact children's charities will lose out - many of the cows are due to be auctioned when the Cow Parade ends in September. Radio Prague's Joshua Keating spoke with Cow Parade organizer Blanka Neumann about the latest developments and efforts to protect the herd from future attack.
And what kind of damage is usually done? Could you give me some examples?
It starts with scratches where someone was trying to put a signature on the cow and then it goes to the more severe cases, which are broken legs, where people tried to tear them off the bases and then one of the cows was also swimming in the Vltava River.
Has anyone been caught trying to damage a cow?
There were about four arrests made where people were caught while damaging a cow. The last case was this Saturday at about 1:30 at night where an English-speaking tourist was arrested while damaging a cow near Staromestske Namesti.
Yeah, I noticed that a lot of the signs condemning the attacks are in English does this mean that you suspect that many of the people are tourists who are doing this?
Yes, and one particular group of tourists who come to Prague. It's not only the English-speaking tourists who come for the stag parties but it's also Czech people. We think its about half-half but there is a good portion of the tourists who add to the vandalism.
The municipal police and the police are being really nice to us and they keep an eye on the cows and are really cooperative and then we tried also to have civic guard, students riding bicycles at night because there are so many cows and if you have two people on a bike it's really hard to make sure that nothing gets damaged. But I think that what is important is that if people who walk on the street, if they see someone trying to damage the cows they are not scared and they say something like "why are you doing this?" or "this is supposed to help children in the end," so just the awareness that the vandalism is in the end hurting the charities that the money should go to.
Despite what's been going on do you still consider the cow project to have been a success?
Yeah. I think we have so much positive feedback from people who come to Prague or even Prague citizens that write us e-mails and tell us that they love it and that it's fun. When you see the children in the streets and how they like the cows...it's a little sad what's happening to the cows but still it's worth it to do it.
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