An investigation is currently ongoing regarding the discovery of a manatee found with the word “TRUMP” engraved on its back. The animal, who was found in the Homosassa River of Citrus County, FLA, was not seriously injured in the assault. Wildlife experts confirmed that the perpetrator did not carve the word into the animal’s flesh. But instead, etched it into the algae on the manatee’s back. Both state and federal authorities are taking part in the case.
Though no serious physical harm befell the creature Jaclyn Lopez, the Florida Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, maintained that: “It’s heartbreaking that this manatee was subjected to this vile, criminal act…It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenseless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately.”
Manatees are among the animals protected by the Endangered Species Act, as well as the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Only about 6,300 manatees live in Florida. Due to their threatened status, harassment of a manatee is a federal offense. Violators may be fined $50,000 or even face up to a year in prison. The Center for Biological Diversity is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the case.