Nittany Lion Shrine suffers damage to limestone ear

July 30, 2003

University Park, Pa. -- The Nittany Lion Shrine, the most recognized -- and most photographed -- symbol of Penn State, is a little less photogenic these days. University Police received a report on Friday that the right ear of the shrine was loose. After examining it, police removed the ear to prevent further damage to it until it can be repaired.

According to police, it appears that this damage was accidental and not a result of vandalism.

This is the third time the Nittany Lion at University Park has lost its right ear. Vandals damaged the shrine in 1978 and again in 1994. In 1979, at age 84, sculptor Heinz Warneke returned to campus to prepare a cast for a new ear, which was put in place by master carver Vincenzzo Palumbo, head stonecutter at Washington's National Cathedral. Palumbo also made the repairs in 1994. A cast of the shrine was made in the event of additional damage.

The statue was created by Warneke in 1940 from a 13-ton block of Indiana limestone, as a likeness of the mountain lion that once roamed Nittany Valley. The Nittany Lion has been Penn State's mascot since 1907 but was not officially recognized until this statue was presented as a gift to the University in 1942 from the Class of 1940.

For current pictures of the shrine, go to

Last Updated July 27, 2010