The deadline for the safe return of Alexander Moo-lian Bow-vine’s bow tie came and went — and the cow’s neck is still bare.
Crystal Miller, director of external affairs and communications at N.C. Children’s Hospital, confirmed that as of Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline, the window of amnesty for returning the bow tie ended, and no perpetrator came forward.
The N.C. Children’s Hospital is the beneficiary of CowParadeNC, a public arts exhibit that dispersed 81 cows across the Triangle and surrounding areas and plans to auction them for charity.
“At this point, I feel like we have given every plea possible,” Miller said.
“We will pursue the individual legally and may potentially increase the amount that we are offering as a reward,” she said, adding that the award is currently set at $500 for information leading to an arrest.
Miller also said given the $20,000 value placed on the cow, the case is considered a felony.
“In the end, it’s not about the bow tie itself being missing, it’s about what the missing bow tie is going to deny our patients and families,” Miller said.
Alexander Moo-lian Bow-vine is not the only cow sculpture on campus that has fallen victim to vandalism.
On Friday, Cow House, a cow sculpture that was located on McCorkle Place by Franklin Street, was severely damaged when it was allegedly tipped by two UNC students — Ryan Bradley and Ryan Tyson — and two other suspects still at large.
Miller said she has contacted Erik Hunter, judicial programs officer for UNC’s honor system, about proceedings for Bradley and Tyson.
Cow House has since been removed from campus for repairs — but that presents problems as well.
“With Cow House, one of the big issues is that the artist has a big exhibition of her own in Greensboro starting next week,” said Danielle Bates, spokeswoman for N.C. Children’s Hospital.
“She said she could eventually repair the cow, but that it would take about 20 hours and that it would take until the end of November.”
Bates said the cows will be in their locations throughout the Triangle until at least Dec. 7.
Beyond UNC’s campus, other members of the herd have suffered damages, as well.
Steven Ray Miller, the artist responsible for the Heartstanding Cow, which is located next to a playground at North Hills in Raleigh, has brought attention to the defacing of his creation.
“I really think the damage to mine came in — and it’s strange to say — a loving way,” he said.
The bovine has 701 hearts painted on it and has fallen victim to having its paint pulled off in strips.
“The hearts are painted in an overlapping manner, and they almost look like stickers,” he said.
Miller said the paint is so thick that it has become almost like skin for the cow sculpture.
“I think kids wanted to peel off a heart and take it home,” he said.
“The good news is that people are drawn to touch my cow and that’s good and fun, but the bad news is that when people instinctively pick at the bumps, they are defacing it.”
Miller said due to the damage caused by the combination of constant picking at the cow’s surface and rain, he will be bringing in the sculpture for repairs this weekend.
“I’ve got another week’s worth of work to do, which would not have been my first choice of how to spend my week,” he said.
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