Zoo Atlanta is certified sensory inclusive
The Zoo is only the third Atlanta visitor destination to offer certified resources for guests with sensory needs.
Zoo Atlanta has partnered with KultureCity to achieve certification as a sensory inclusive destination, becoming just the third visitor venue in Atlanta to offer certified resources and accommodations for guests with sensory needs. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all visitors.
Through the certification process, Zoo Atlanta team members were trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle sensory overload situations. Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and other resources, are now available to all guests at the Member Services Office just outside the Zoo entrance. Weighted lap pads will also be available to visitors at the Zoo train station in KIDZone and at the World of Wild Theater presented by Georgia Natural Gas. Both the sensory bags and the lap pads are available to borrow, free of charge, with presentation of an ID.
In addition, Zoo grounds now include three Quiet Areas and six Headphone Zones, marked with signage and identifiable on the Zoo Atlanta map. Prior to their visit, guests may download a social story via the KultureCity All Inclusive App.
“The Zoo Atlanta experience can make a lasting positive impression on the lives of individuals and families, but we are not succeeding at our mission if it’s not an experience that’s accessible to everyone,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. “We’re proud to partner with KultureCity on an initiative that we hope will welcome many new and returning guests to Zoo Atlanta – guests who may not have previously been able to enjoy the rich resources and benefits of an experience that others may take for granted.”
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over-stimulation and noise, which are parts of the environment in a venue such as the Zoo. With its new certification, Zoo Atlanta is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible during their visit.
“Families being able to enjoy a visit to the Zoo with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who may not have been able to previously attend is a truly heartwarming experience,” said Traci Johnson, Executive Director, KultureCity. “To know that Zoo Atlanta is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”
KultureCity is a leading nonprofit recognized nationwide for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs, not just those with autism. In the past year alone, KultureCity has created several sensory inclusive venues and events, including the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, 16 NBA arenas, five NFL stadiums, five NHL arenas and zoos, science centers and aquariums across the nation.
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About Zoo Atlanta
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. Zoo highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, a set of twins born to Lun Lun on September 3, 2016; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. The Zoo’s newest experience, Treetop Trail presented by Kaiser Permanente, opened in March 2017. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises and giant pandas. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.