“Guardians of the Galaxy” star Dave Bautista is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for scraping the word “Trump” into the back of a Florida manatee discovered last week.
The manatee, who survived the attack, was found a week ago in the Homosassa River in Citrus County in western Florida. Manatees are a threatened species.
Bautista, who hails from the Sunshine State, offered to “throw in” a $20,000 reward (with “bonuses”) for the “arrest and conviction of the low life scummy MAGATS that did this.”
The Center for Biological Diversity had previously offered a $5,000 reward.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson told HuffPost that the agency is “investigating this matter.” The official noted that “harassing or harming a West Indian manatee in any way (including touching or writing on it) is a violation of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.” The animal did not appear to be seriously injured, according to the official.
“West Indian manatees are essential members of the ecosystems in which they inhabit and are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” FWS Director Aurelia Skipwith said in a statement to HuffPost.
Officials believed the word may have been scraped into the algae on the animal’s back.
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity, condemned the attack.
“Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason,” she said in a statement to HuffPost. “However this political graffiti was put on this manatee, it’s a crime to interfere with these creatures, which are protected under multiple federal laws.”
The Florida-based nonprofit wildlife group Save the Manatee Club also blasted the attack.
The club is “appalled at this disrespectful, harmful act toward an imperiled species,” the group said in a statement.
“Based on the photos and videos available, it appears that the perpetrator may have scratched the manatee’s skin with their fingers, scraping the algae that grows on the slow-moving mammals,” the club explained. “They may have scraped the top layer of the manatee’s skin as well. Manatees have tough but sensitive skin, covered with tiny, sensory hairs ... it’s possible that this action may have caused the manatee discomfort or pain.”