South African officials recently discovered something strange inside the ear of a new 30-foot statue of Nelson Mandela: a rabbit.

The sculptors included the bronze rabbit because they were refused permission to engrave their signatures in the statue of the former president and human rights hero.

Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren say the rabbit is a discreet signature on their work, but officials want it removed.

"There are deliberations at present on how best to retain the integrity of the sculpture without causing any damage or disfigurement," according to a statement issued by the Department of Arts and Culture.

The bronze rabbit is about half the height of Mandela’s ear canal and went unnoticed until this week. The statue was unveiled at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Dec. 16, the day after Mandela’s funeral.

The sculptors, who are part of South Africa's white Afrikaner minority, were selected in part because the project was a multiracial effort in keeping with Mandela's principles.

They both apologized for the rabbit and explained that they included it because it represents the pressure of finishing the sculpture on time. “Haas," the word for rabbit in the Dutch-based Afrikaans language, also means "haste."

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Why is there a rabbit in Nelson Mandela's ear?
A 'hare-raising' situation has developed in South Africa with the discovery of an unintended addition to a statue dedicated to the former president.