Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a news conference to decry the alleged abuse of an animal he called "a huge part of our culture here in Florida" and "a very integral part of what Florida is about."
It seems the Manatee wasn`t the only thing being ridden in an unsavory manner. Sheriff Gualtieri wasted no time in mounting up for a gallant ride through the press, atop his sturdy steed his jangling spurs clicking against the stirrups, he cast his sharp lance of morality and self righteous indignation forward, demanding retribution for this heinous crime.
"Go ride a Jet Ski. Don't use animals," the sheriff continued. "She needs to be held accountable for her actions."
Is this idiot running for re-election or is he always just an opportunist political whore?
Later Tuesday, the publicity effort paid off when Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez phoned the Sheriff's Office and admitted to being the alleged manatee molester.
While this critical crusade of legendary law-enforcement brilliance was unfolding in Pinellas County, not a peep from neighboring Manatee County Officials...oh the irony!
Those familiar with the animals say the indignity of being ridden is simply too much.
"God — I just — I can't believe somebody is riding a manatee," stammered Sunshine River Tours owner Michael Millsap when informed of the events at Fort De Soto. "That's just ridiculous."
Millsap probably dosen`t own a horse or a camel for this very reason!
Millsap, who runs swim-and-snorkel tours out of Crystal River that let people get in the water to observe manatees, said that about a decade ago he was forced to crack down on a 9-year-old girl who tried to ride a manatee while her science teacher looked on.
"I told them … I never want to see them again on my tour," Millsap said.
He also banned them from touching his pet rock and attending his monthly moonbat fly-by meetings.
Not to be outdone... "It's a wild animal. It's not something to be ridden," said Susan Butler, a manatee expert with the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville. "I can't say that as a biologist I would ever, ever condone that, or say that (the manatee) wanted them to do that."
No article would be complete without the official manatee channeling moment by the U.S.G.S spokesperson. Got an animal that has something to say? Call the U.S.G.S and ask for Susan!
Authorities do not believe the manatee was physically hurt. The psychological impact of the incident is harder to assess.
The laws protecting the manatee from harm from careless and thoughtless boaters are to be applauded and strictly enforced. Providing the gentle creatures a safe and plentiful habitat to live and thrive are of utmost importance as well, but you do not benefit the mammals by promoting some grandstanding political hogwash news conference and making a federal case out of some idiot doing something stupid that resulted in no harm to the creature. Educate and inform, don`t demonize and politicize, and stop with the fanatical hand wringing and the over reaction psycho-babble hysterical rhetoric about 'psychological impacts', it only detracts from the message that these easy going gentle giants are best left untouched and to be enjoyed from a distance!