WCS has partnered with KultureCity to make the Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo sensory inclusive. The New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo are working toward certification in the coming months. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for guests with sensory sensitivities during their visits to these iconic New York City wildlife parks.
“The Bronx Zoo and all of WCS’s wildlife parks in New York City strive to create a welcoming and inclusive experience for each visitor,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “Our partnership with KultureCity enables us to provide a safe, comfortable environment for those with sensory challenges to enjoy and learn about animals and wildlife conservation.”
Staff members at the zoos were trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize guests with sensory needs, and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, and verbal cue cards (produced in conjunction with Boardmaker) will also be available to all guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Guests can look for signage in the park to help identify areas of high volume (“Headphone Zones”) and areas to take a break (“Quiet Areas”)
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. With their new certification, the WCS zoos will be better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible.
Prior to attending a certified venue, families can download the free KultureCity App to learn what sensory features are available, and where they can be accessed. App users can also view the Social Story, which will provide a preview of what to expect while enjoying the zoo.
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