IT is a tongue-in-cheek attraction which bemuses locals and tourists alike.
But the unusual model of a cow’s backside could have been taken from the city’s streets forever if a “cow rustler” had his or her own way.
It has emerged an attempt was made to steal the sculpture, the rear of which sticks out from the Rowan Tree bar on the Cowgate, while the cow’s head protrudes round the corner on the side of the Caves club on Niddry Street South.
Lisa Rowan-Harney, 35, and her brother Norman Rowan, 33, who own the Caves, noticed the cow wasn’t lighting up as normal one night last week.
Mrs Rowan-Harney said: “We noticed that it wasn’t lighting up last week and went to investigate further. Somebody had tried to take it off the wall and the speaker and wires for the light were missing. It normally bellows at midday and midnight but it doesn’t make a noise anymore, and it doesn’t light up either. It needs a wee bit of TLC.
“You can see where they have tried to get the cow off the wall. It was hanging off. We have no idea at all who tried to steal it.”
The siblings – whose father is former Scotland rugby star Norrie Rowan – managed to secure the cow’s rear to the wall but further repairs will be required to enable the structure to light up and “moo” once again.
Mrs Rowan-Harney added: “The cow is in two halves and it’s only the back half that’s been affected. All the electronics are in the bum.
“We had taken the front half down for the festival because we put scaffolding up and it was hitting the head of the cow, and we didn’t want it to get damaged.”
Mrs Rowan-Harney said the rear of the cow was situated around 20 feet up a wall on the Cowgate and would require a ladder to reach it.
She said: “We are not sure how they managed to get up there. It’s the strangest thing – I hate to think why they tried to steal it.
“The speaker was hidden behind the body of the cow and they have just pulled at it and the wires for the light.”
The cow also had a cheeky mechanical dimension which saw it lift up its tail and pass gas – in the form of white smoke.
Mrs Rowan-Harney plans to report the incident to Lothian and Borders Police this week.
She said: “The cow is like one of our signs so we were a bit upset that it had been kind of rustled. You try to do something that’s a bit of fun and a bit of entertainment for everybody, and then this happens. Everybody in Edinburgh knows where ‘the back end of the cow’ is. It’s like somebody has stolen Greyfriars Bobby.
“We are going to leave it up just now and after the festival we will get some repairs done.”
The attempted theft is thought to have taken place last Tuesday or Wednesday, with Mrs Rowan-Harney and her brother making the discovery on Thursday at around 7pm.
Mrs Rowan-Harney added: “The tour buses go past and the tourists quite like taking pictures of the bum. It turned into a bit of a tourist attraction.”