February 24, 2014 14:42Updated February 25, 2014 16:50
The disappearance of the 'bloody big mango' was part of a publicity stunt.
The mystery of the missing mango in Australia has been solved.
A chicken fastfood chain on Tuesday confessed to picking off the 10-ton, three-storey high Big Mango from the tourist information center in the Queensland town of Bowen in the early hours of Monday and hiding it in a nearby paddock.
Nando's issued a statement saying it would “take good care of the mango, and would return it to its rightful position soon(ish)."
Security camera footage posted on a Facebook page for the Big Mango showed the alleged thieves armed with heavy equipment and a mobile crane removing the fruity landmark in the dead of night.
The fiberglass statue was erected in 2002 at a cost of $90,000 to attract more tourists to Australia's mango production hub.
Soon after the story broke on Monday morning it emerged that the tourism bureau had not reported the mango's disappearance to police, raising questions about whether it was genuine theft or a publicity stunt.
It turns out to have been the latter. Nando's posted this video on YouTube showing how it borrowed the monster mango.
"At the end of the day it's a bloody big mango and I'm sure someone will see it and we'll find it anyway,” Bowen Tourism Chairman Paul McLaughlin said on Monday.
"I think it'll definitely turn up, no doubt about that. We're not sure what has happened but I'm sure we'll get it back."
McLaughlin denied he had staged the theft and it seems he was telling the truth, sort of. Although he didn't arrange the Big Mango's disappearance, he was aware of the plan.
The Big Mango is one of many “big” landmarks built in Australian towns over the past 50 years to attract tourists and boost the local economy.
They usually represent the main product or attraction of the town.
There’s the Big Merino, the Big Pineapple, the Big Prawn, the Big Potato, the Big Banana, the Big Koala, the Big Croc and even the Big Earthworm.
And the list goes on.
The Big Oyster
The Big Oyster in Taree, New South Wales. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The Big Merino
The Big Merino in Goulburn, New South Wales. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
The Big Pineapple
The Big Pineapple in Nambour, Queensland. (Ashlee Ralla/Getty Images)
The Big Prawn
The Big Prawn in Ballina, New South Wales. (Getty Images)
The Big Potato
The Big Potato in Robertson, New South Wales. (Will Jones/Getty Images)
The Big Banana
The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP)