Scratching each other’s backs?

When People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) staged a grand unveiling of their now famous “sad elephant” statue in Washington this morning, they also unveiled something that PETA’s polished media spinners and image manipulators might have a hard time explaining.

It turns out that the hindquarters of PETA’s elephant are inscribed with the initials A-L-F. That’s short for Animal Liberation Front, a violent group of animal rights extremists classified as a “domestic terror group” by the FBI.

Even more surprising: the initials were clearly scratched into the statue’s paint underneath the protective varnish applied by the DC Commission on the Arts this week. Activists including PETA lawyer Matthew Penzer and the Humane Society of the United States’ J.P. Goodwin were on hand to cry foul, but neither could explain how a terrorist group’s initials wound up on a 3-dimensional PETA advertisement.

The handiwork is an unfortunate turn for PETA, which has long denied formal involvement with the Animal Liberation Front, even as news of its cash donation to ALF’s sister group, the Earth Liberation Front, was made public in February.

The photograph below shows a close-up of the initials in question. For a video clip showing the entire statue for context, click here.

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