'Maya the Bee' Producer Says Penis Drawing Was "Very Bad Joke" From One Artist

The company behind the European cartoon, which screens on Netflix in the U.S., says it has begun legal action after an uproar on social media.

The production firm behind children's show Maya the Bee, which streams in the U.S. on Netflix, has apologized for an episode of the animated series that included a drawing of a penis in the background.

"An absolutely inappropriate image has been discovered in a four-second fly-by scene in one episode of the total of 78 episodes of the series," said production group Studio 100 in a statement on Friday. "The origin of this image obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the 150 artists working on the production."

The image of a crudely-drawn penis was discovered by some U.S. viewers, who took screen shots of the offending scenes and posted them on social media. Netflix, which does not produce the show but licenses it for the U.S., has since pulled the episode of the show with the image in it.

"This is indeed unacceptable to the Studio 100 Group as owner of the brand and all its partners and doesn’t reflect the quality of its work and its values," the company's statement continues. "Legal action has already been started. Studio 100 very much regrets this incident and would like to offer its sincere apologies to all Maya the Bee fans. At the same time the company is taking all suitable technical measures to remedy the situation."

Maya the Bee is a European cartoon based on 1912 children's book by German writer Waldemar Bonsels. The story of a rebellious young bee named Maya who leaves her hive to discover the beauty and mysteries of nature has been adapted several times for television and film.