Painful cut to euro's stork

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The Independent Online
HE LOOKS the picture of innocence today, but Euro-stork, the official logo of the single currency, is hiding a painful secret.

It emerged yesterday that early drafts of the cartoon character were altered, after complaints from Commission officials that the stork was sporting spherical objects some felt resembled male genitalia.

The information directorate in Brussels quickly stepped in, removing them in time for the official unveiling of Euro-stork in front of the continent's media earlier this week.

The revelation, already the subject of much amusement in the media in Brussels, has puzzled observers, who argue that neither in life, nor in children's literature, do storks have such prominent physical attributes.

One Brussels official said that the early draft was not deliberately drawn with genitalia, but that the outline was "open to misinterpretation".

Euro-stork was designed by Wejp Olsen, a cartoonist from Denmark, one of the countries which is not even taking part in the first wave of the currency.

The bird features in a short film which is being made available to television stations throughout the EU. In the film he lands, money pouch in beak, bringing the euro with him.

Euro-stork is part of a publicity blitz that is costing around pounds 35,000, but which has not been without other complications.

Commission officials have had to limit the release of balloons celebrating the euro's launch on New Year's Eve to 3,000, to comply with air traffic control regulations. They have also been embarrassed by green groups, who claim that the balloons may prove highly damaging to real bird life.