When Drax isn’t saving the universe, he’s looking out for Florida’s beloved manatees.
Dave Bautista, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor and former pro wrestler took to Twitter to offer a $20,000 reward on Monday after learning that federal authorities are reviewing a video of a manatee spotted in a Florida spring with the word TRUMP scraped in algae on its back.
The manatee was spotted over the weekend in the Homosassa River. The area is about 80 miles north of Tampa, Florida, where Bautista is a resident.
“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,” Bautista wrote in a reply to a tweet about the incident. “And I promise there will be bonuses to that reward!”
Best known for playing Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Bautista got his start on the WWE and mixed martial arts.
Hundreds of fans replied and shared the tweet in admiration of the actor’s efforts.
“I already thought @DaveBautista was an A++++ human, and just when I think I couldn’t like him anymore….he’s getting behind the effort to find the people who harmed that manatee,” user @Amylia403 wrote.
Florida Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, also shared the news of Bautista’s proposed reward in a tweet Friday morning.
“Manatees aren’t billboards”
Another national nonprofit conservation group, the Center for Biological Diversity, announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the incident.
“Manatees aren’t billboards, and people shouldn’t be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “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.”
Manatees are protected by state and federal laws and it is a crime to touch them. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the manatee does not appear to be seriously injured.
Melissa Ponder submitted a photo of the manatee to FLORIDA TODAY. She said she saw the manatee at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 10 near Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
“It was sleeping in shallow water beneath the walkway along the river. The manatee has the word TRUMP scratched into its back,” she said. “It appears as if the first letters were made by scraping away the algae on its back, but further down where the algae thins out it looks like the letters were carved into its skin.”
Carlos Munoz and Jigsha Desai contributed to this reporting.