Copenhagen's Little Mermaid
Copenhagen's iconic Little Mermaid statue was painted red by animal rights activists protesting whaling on the Faroe Islands on 30 May 2017 Reuters/Ida Marie Odgaard

Copenhagen's famous Little Mermaid statue was vandalised by animal rights activists on Tuesday (30 May).

The activists doused Denmark's iconic sculpture in red paint to protest whaling practices around the Faroe Islands. On the pavement in front of the monument, they painted the message "Denmark defend the whales of Faroe Islands."

Danish authorities allow the islanders to drive herds of pilot whales into a bay and stab them to death with long knives.

The whales are not an endangered species. There are more than 100,000 pilot whales living around the Faroe Islands. 800 are killed on average each year, according to island officials. Animal rights groups say whale hunting is a practice "of unimaginable suffering and cruelty."

Copenhagen police said on Twitter that they are investigating the incident. The culprits have not yet been identified.

The Little Mermaid was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen in honour of Denmark's most famous storyteller Hans Christian Andersen who wrote the fairy tale.

It is not the first time that the bronze statue has been vandalised. The mermaid's head was stolen in 1964 and 1988 and her arm was cut off in 1984.

Copenhagen's Little Mermaid vandalised
Animals rights activists vandalised Copenhagen's iconic Little Mermaid statue in protest over the country's whaling on the Faroe Islands Reuters/Ida Marie Odgaard