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Giant mango tourist attraction disappears from small Australian town

missing_mango.jpg

The Bowen tourist information center says its giant mango has been stolen, yet local police say that they're not investigating. (Bowen Tourism)

Is it an elaborate heist or a publicity stunt? 

A kitschy, three-story mango, the centerpiece of a tourist center in the North Queensland's town of Bowen, has been taken, reports the Brisbane Times.

Staff at the Bowen Tourist Information Center posted on its Facebook that they arrived at work on Monday morning to find the giant mango removed from its concrete base outside the center. 

Security footage released from the center showed about six culprits approaching the fiberglass mango with a crane and heavy machinery between midnight and 2 am.

“It’s 10 meters (32 feet) high and weighs seven tons so it wouldn’t have been an easy thing to shift, but someone’s done a pretty good job of borrowing it,” Bowen Tourism chairman Paul McLaughlin told Fairfax Media.

The giant mango was erected in 2002 to celebrate Bowen's mango production and is one of many oversized iconic tourist landmarks, which also include a big banana, avocado, pineapple and beer can.  

An officer at the Bowen Police Station told local media that they knew about the mango’s disappearance but were not investigating at this stage.

Employees at the tourist center denied it was a hoax, despite no reports of the mango being spotted on the highway or anywhere else.

Adding fuel to speculation that this is just one big publicity stunt, a Bowen’s Big Mango page was created on Facebook on Monday morning.

The first post appeared about noon: “Bowen's Big Mango is missing!!! Please share and help us find it!’’

Not surprising, Facebook users have been having a field day coming up with pithy comments.

One user, Neil Kelly suggested the thieves to be, "Smoothie lovers obviously."

"They will have to put security guards at the other big fruits incase whoever took it is planning on making fruit salad," wrote another user Linda Lalalinda.

Meanwhile, Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that a man who was involved in the initial construction and installation of the mango in 2002 said it took his team several days to transport the pieces and several more to assemble the fiberglass mango.

"It took three semi-trailer loads to take it down, we had to get the permits to close the Burdekin Bridge... you just can't go in and shift it overnight, it has to be hoax," Paul Wise says.