The “theft” of a three-story, seven-tonne mango statue in northern Australia was revealed on Tuesday to be an elaborate publicity stunt by a fast-food chain.
The disappearance on Monday of the Big Mango, a towering fibreglass likeness of the fruit which is abundant in its hometown of Bowen, made international headlines and a Facebook page was set up to help find it.
But a chicken restaurant chain has said it was responsible for “borrowing” the tourist attraction.
“The disappearance of Bowen’s Big Mango has generated quite a lot of attention over the last day or so, and we confess Nando’s was behind moving the three storey high, ten tonne tourist attraction,” it said on its website.
“Nando’s would like to thank the people of Bowen for being good sports about us ‘borrowing’ their beautiful mango.
The chain said the reason for the stunt would be revealed soon and that the mango would be put back in place.
The famous fruit, which was unveiled in 2002 as a kitschy tourist attraction, appeared to have been harvested in an ambitious raid by thieves armed with heavy machinery and cranes.
But suspicions were raised when police said they were not investigating.
A caller to ABC radio on Tuesday said the mango was lying in the bush behind the information centre where it usually sits.
“They’ve laid it over on its side on a couple of tractor tyres by the look of it and covered all that end that’s facing Bowen with big, long tree branches and shade cloths so nobody can see it,” he said.