TAMPA -- Florida's iconic native aquatic mammal, the manatee, gets its due in a new campaign started by Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
Now the zoo wants a digital emoji befitting of gentle creatures that swim just beneath the surface of our Florida waterways.
They have created a petition to Unicode to create a manatee emoji. Unicode is a non-profit organization that regulates the creation of emojis. With 25,000 signatures, the zoo hopes to demonstrate that there is enough demand for Unicode to make manatees a part of text messaging.
The move coincides with Manatee Awareness Month, launched by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, to make Floridians aware of the dangers they present to the species while boating.
November also marks the start of manatee migration season as the animals search for warmer waters. While awareness of the manatee has led to their increasing numbers (6,250 in a February 2016 count by FWC) there were still 91 reported deaths due to boat strikes this year.
For more information on manatee boating safety: click here.
To find manatee viewing areas in Florida: click here