November marks manatee awareness month, and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is raising awareness about the threats facing these magnificent animals by starting a petition pushing for the first ever manatee emoji, in the hopes that it will encourage people to learn about these gentle giants and how they can get involved to protect them.
In honor of Manatee Awareness Month, the Zoo created a petition to Unicode asking for the creation of a manatee emoji, in the hopes that the campaign will inspire people to learn and get involved in the protection of these gentle giants.
“Manatees are beloved across the country, but especially by Floridians, so we’re hoping to capitalize on that affection with our awareness campaign,” said Kristy Chase-Tozer, Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “We are always looking for new ways to engage people with these amazing animals. Developing a manatee emoji is a fun way to continue our conversation about their need for protections.”
Emojis, a type of emoticon common on smartphones, continue to grow in popularity. In fact, in 2015 Oxford English Dictionary declared one emoji, a pictograph named “Face with Tears of Joy,” as their Word of the Year. The petition created by the Zoo hopes to leverage this popularity by convincing Unicode, the nonprofit that regulates the universal coding for emojis, that there is a sufficient demand for a manatee emoji. The goal of the petition is to gain 25,000 signatures.
“As an organization dedicated to manatee conservation, we are also charged with communicating the importance of this species to the rest of the world,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer, Senior Vice President, and Zoo Director. “If we are successful, a manatee emoji could exist on every smartphone in the U.S. We can’t think of a better way to connect with new audiences and spread affinity for manatees to the public.”
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in a number of manatee rescues, rehabilitation and relocations. To date, the Zoo has cared for more than 400 wild manatees, treating illness and injuries related to boat strikes, cold stress, entanglement and red tide exposure. Much of this care occurs on-site at the Zoo’s David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital, the only critical care hospital for manatees in the country.
For more information on the petition and to sign it, click here.