Outrage after manatee found with 'Trump' carved into its back

Brianne Tolj
·3-min read

An investigation has been launched into the mutilation of a manatee found in a Florida river with the word “Trump” carved into its back.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service told local newspaper The Citrus County Chronicle the injured manatee was found on Sunday (local time) in the headwaters of the Homosassa River on the state’s west coast, about 160km west of Orlando.

Video and images show an underwater view of the slow-moving mammal, with “Trump” etched in large letters in its back.

“Trump” is seen etched into the manatee's back. Source: The Citrus Country Chronicle/US Fish and Wildlife Service
The manatee was found in a Florida river with the word “Trump” scraped into its back. Source: The Citrus Country Chronicle/US Fish and Wildlife Service

The manner in which the letters were engraved is not clear.

Craig Cavanna, a senior wildlife officer involved in the investigation, declined to comment to the newspaper.

However, he did say harassment of a manatee is a federal criminal offence and those responsible are facing a $50,000 fine and a year in prison.

An image from social media highlights the word Trump with red lettering.
An image which makes the word Trump clearer on the manatee's back with the help of red lettering is circulating on social media. Source: The Citrus Country Chronicle/US Fish and Wildlife Service

Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s website.

Manatees, which live in fresh water in the Gulf of Mexico, Amazon River and the west coast of Africa, are a relative of Australia’s salt water dugongs.

Reward offered on information on ‘cruel mutilation’

The Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity on Monday said it was offering a $5000 reward for information “leading to a conviction for the cruel and illegal mutilation”.

“It’s clear that whoever harmed this defenceless, gentle giant is capable of doing grave violence and needs to be apprehended immediately,” Jaclyn Lopez, the non-profit group’s Florida director, said in a statement.

Manatees often seek sanctuary in the waters along Citrus County, which makes them accessible to swimmers and fishermen in boats.

A manatee swimming with its baby pictured in its enclosure at Faunia zoo park. Source: Getty
Manatees often seek sanctuary in the waters along Citrus County, which makes them accessible to swimmers and fishermen in boats. Source: Getty

Mr Cavanna told the publication the mutilation was “out of character” for the local community, which he said has a “core value of wildlife conservation”.

Anyone who knows anything about the incident is urged to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Tensions have continued to bubble across the US in the week since the violent and deadly riots at the Capitol on Wednesday (local time).

Outgoing President Donald Trump is now facing a charge of “incitement of insurrection” as House Democrats push forward in their bid to oust him in the wake of the Capitol riots.

with Reuters

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