Manatee found with ‘Trump’ carved into its back in ‘horrifying’ animal attack

Wildlife officials in the United States are investigating a cruel prank that has seen a manatee etched with the word Trump.

Snaps showed the aquatic mammal swimming with the President’s name clearly scratched into its skin.

It was filmed in Blue Hole Spring, off the Homosassa River in Florida.

Slow-moving and docile, manatees have large thick algae that grow on their backs. They’re often found on the state’s shoreline.

According to reports, they are protected by the Endangered Species Act and tampering can lead to a $50,000 (£37k) fine or a year in federal prison.

Federal Wildlife Officer Craig Cavanna told the Citrus County Chronicle that an investigation is underway.

He said: "It’s been my experience that this is very out of character for this community.

"Wildlife conservation is a core value in Citrus County. That’s why it’s called the Nature Coast. We are following leads."

Douglas Nowacek, Repass-Rodgers University Professor of Conservation Technology at Duke University, described the mutilation as "one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen done to a wild animal".

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Aurelia Skipwith, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Director, added: "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.

"The US Fish and Wildlife Service is aware of this incident and is working closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."

It is unclear whether the manatee is injured.

The Centre for Biological Diversity has since stumped up a $5,000 (£3,700) reward for anyone with information leading to conviction on the incident.

Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Centre, said: "Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperilled animals for any reason.

"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."

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Elizabeth Fleming, a senior representative at Defenders of Wildlife, told the New York Times: "I’m disgusted that someone would harm a defenceless creature to send what I can only assume is a political message.

"We will do everything in our power to help find, arrest and successfully prosecute this coward."

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