The right ear on Penn State’s iconic Nittany Lion statue was broken off over the weekend, and police yet haven’t determined who damaged it, or if the incident was an accident or an act of vandalism.
After reviewing video footage, the university’s police department was questioning two individuals, officials said. Police said officers found the ear on the ground near the statue when they responded early Saturday morning.
The Lion Shrine’s ear is missing. State Patty’s Day is a menace. pic.twitter.com/HY6m6viBLe
— Kevin Horne (@KevinHornePSU) February 25, 2018
Officials also said the ear had previously been reported as being slightly loose, and was scheduled to be examined by the university’s Office of Physical Plant.
Despite the timing, officials aren’t sure the damage had any direct connection to the university’s annual Saint Patty’s Day festival, which is traditionally held the first Saturday after the THON fundraiser and in the past has led to fights, property destruction, many arrests and hospital visits.
So far, officials don’t have a final tally of the number of arrests that occurred over the weekend, but the Centre Daily Times reported that calls for emergency medical services around State College were delayed as early as 4 p.m. on Friday due to ambulances attending to partiers who had already consumed too much alcohol. In past years, hundreds of arrests and citations have been issued during the event.
It’s not the first time the Nittany Lion’s ear has been damaged since its dedication back in 1942. A university spokesman said vandals have damaged the famed statue’s right ear twice over the years, back in 1978 and again in 1994.
After the damaged sustained in 1978, the statue’s original sculptor, Heinz Warneke, prepared a cast for a new ear, which was put in place by Vincenzo Palumbo, a master carver who was the head stonecutter at Washington’s National Cathedral. Palumbo also repaired the statue in 1994.
The right ear also came off in 2003, but officials determined that damage was accidental.
The statue, originally a gift from the class of 1940, has long been one of the most iconic locations on the university’s campus. Back in 2013, the area around the statue was renovated to add improved lighting, a sidewalk and some decorative stones, a gift from the class of 2012.