Actor Dave Bautista is offering $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person who carved "TRUMP" into the back of a manatee. Last week, an image went viral showing a live manatee that had the president's name scrapped onto it, and then was presumably released back into the wild. Bautista said that he wanted to help catch "the low life scummy MAGATs that did this."
"If there’s not already a reward for the arrest and conviction of the low life scummy MAGATs that did this I’ll throw in $20,000. And I promise there will be bonuses to that reward!" Bautista tweeted when news of the manatee first began to spread. In fact, Bautista's generous offer joins a $5,000 reward from the Center for Biological Diversity, according to a report by Fox News, and it appears one would be able to claim both rewards. Fans praised Bautista for taking a stand here and hoped that the criminal would be caught.
If there’s not already a reward for the arrest and conviction of the low life scummy MAGATs that did this I’ll throw in $20,000. And I promise there will be bonuses to that reward! https://t.co/CGa2EIhrEQ— Vice President Drax (@DaveBautista) January 12, 2021
"The reward is awesome but I think the guilty person deserves a punch in the face by you. That would be the bonus," one fan commented. Another added: "OMG Thank you. I live here in FL and am active in animal rescue and conservation. I've been trying to think of a way to offer some kind of reward but with things so financially difficult right now I couldn't. Absolutely crying. Thank you."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reportedly investigating the defacement of this manatee, noting that the species is considered "threatened" in the state of Florida. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 states: "It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee." The crime is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Thankfully, authorities believe that this animal was not seriously injured, with the vandals just scraping the upper layer of algae and skin on its back. A statement from the Florida-based nonprofit Save the Manatee Club noted that this was probably painful for the manatee, though no lasting harm was done.
“The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is investigating the harassment of a manatee...reported to federal authorities over the weekend discovered w/ words "Trump" scraped in its back ...discovered in Blue Hole on the Homosassa River” (via @CitrusChronicle )— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) January 11, 2021
Insurrectioning wildlife? pic.twitter.com/PvzI3pZ5Xn
"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," their statement read. "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, so it’s possible that this action may have caused the manatee discomfort or pain."