SANFORD, Fla., July 15, 2019—The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has partnered with KultureCity®, a non-profit organization focused on creating welcoming and inclusive environments for individuals with unique abilities, to become a certified sensory inclusive facility.
During the certification process, Zoo staff and volunteers were trained to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to approach a sensory overload situation. Sensory sensitivities are often experienced by individuals with developmental challenges, autism, PTSD, anxiety, and more. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over stimulation by large crowds, unfamiliar areas, and loud noises, which can be common in the Zoo environment.
“The opportunity to work with KultureCity® to become a Sensory Inclusive™ Certified facility helps us to fulfill our mission of being a conservation resource providing experiences that excite and inspire children and adults to learn and act on behalf of wildlife,” said Stephanie Williams, Zoo Director. “This certification provides us with the proper tools to allow our guests to see and experience all the Zoo has to offer.”
Sensory bags will be available at the Zoo’s Admissions Window and are equipped with noise-canceling headphones, cue cards, fidget tools, and other resources. These bags are available to borrow, free of charge, for guests with sensory needs.
Signage will be posted throughout the Zoo indicating potentially high-noise areas, as well as designated Quiet Areas for individuals who need to take a break. Prior to visiting the Zoo, families can download the free KultureCity App to learn more about what sensory features are available and where they can access them. Also on the app is the Social Story which will provide a preview of what to expect during a visit to the Zoo.