Wildlife authorities in Florida have begun an investigation into a manatee who had appeared in local waters, after it was discovered that the animal has ‘Trump’ etched into its back.

As per The New York Times, the manatee was sighted in the Homosassa River on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and footage and photos taken of the creature show that someone has notched ‘TRUMP’ into its skin.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has now called for anyone with information to come forward. It also said the animal did not appear to be seriously injured, and it looked as though the letters were scraped into the algae that typically live on the skin of manatees.

The Centre for Biological Diversity said it will offer a $5000 USD reward for information leading to the conviction of the person who mutilated the animal, which is a state and a federal offence.

Nearly ironically, Donald Trump signed a federal animal cruelty bill into law in late 2019, and anyone found guilty of violating the law could face up to seven years in prison.

At a state level, manatees are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, and federally by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Harassing or harming a manatee can carry a fine of up to $50,000 USD and/or up to one year in federal prison.

As the images and footage of the gentle giant emerged, people were fast to declare that this is just beyond comprehension, and the act of harming an innocent animal for any reason was absolutely unacceptable. Twitter, unsurprisingly, is out for blood.

God help that absolute fool who thought this was a good idea because if the authorities don’t get you, the internet absolutely will.

Image: Twitter / @DrEricDing