The iconic Bronze Bull outside Birmingham's Bullring has been severely damaged by vandals.
Experts believe that even if repairs can be carried out, they will cost several thousand pounds and will take weeks to complete.
The shopping centre's CCTV footage showed a lone male, believed to be Asian, wearing dark clothing, approaching the bull at 1.20am yesterday. He spent just over four minutes defacing the statue, scratching what is believed to be "Moynur" into his nose and "Husam" along the back. It is believed the deep lines may leave permanent marks.
Witnesses are being urged to come forward with information to help track down the vandal.
Bullring general manager Tim Walley said: "When we launched in September 2003, the Bull - or Bully has come to be affectionately known - took centre stage. Since then, he has become one of the city's main attractions, with thousands of people having their photographs taken with him every year from all over the world.
"The Bull has become such an icon that some people believe that rubbing his nose brings good luck and make special trips into the city just to see him. Who ever committed this crime has done much more than graffiti a statue - they have taken something away from our city.
"He really is the star of the show at Bullring and everyone is devastated to see him in this state."
Mr Walley urged anyone with information to contact police as soon as possible.
He said: "It is up to us - the people that live and work in Birmingham - to defend our city. Whoever did this must not be allowed to get away with it. Bullring has given the region a lot to be proud of."
One of the largest bronze animal sculptures in the country, the twice life-size bull is intended to represent of the pride and strength of Birmingham.
Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.