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UCLA-USC rivalry week claims casualty as The Bruin statue is splattered in cardinal and gold paint [Updated]

November 25, 2009 |  9:29 am

The Bruin

Authorities are trying to determine this morning who splashed cardinal and gold paint -- USC school colors -- all over a statue of the UCLA Bruin mascot on the Westwood campus.

Police say the prank is being treated as a felony vandalism investigation.

UCLA students The Bruins and Trojans will meet Saturday in the traditional crosstown football game, and UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said it's unclear when the statue, which had been wrapped to protect it from harm, was vandalized. But it could have been between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. today, when the paint-splattered bear was discovered. [Updated at 10:02 a.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly indicated that the game was Thursday.]

Despite the heated passions of rivalry week, there have been few pranks because officials from both universities have taken steps in recent years to protect icons on campus from vandalism.

The statue sits in Bruin Plaza and was unveiled in 1984, Hampton said. Since 1999, school officials have  protected the statue with a tarp during rivalry week, telling students the bear is hibernating.

At USC, campus officials wrap the Tommy Trojan statue and students have taken to guarding the statue in shifts. There was no reported retaliation. 

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photos: Top, maintenance workers clean up the paint on the Bruin statue at UCLA. Bottom, students gather to see the defaced mascot. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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