OKC ZOO ACHIEVES CERTIFICATION AS SENSORY INCLUSIVE ZOO
June 05, 2018
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has proudly partnered with KultureCity to become certified as a sensory inclusive zoo. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for guests with sensory sensitivities that visit the OKC Zoo.
KultureCity, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to creating sensory inclusive community spaces that provide accessibility for all individuals with unique abilities. The OKC Zoo is one of 12 accredited Association of Zoos and Aquariums members to be recognized as a sensory inclusive location by KultureCity and the second certified attraction in Oklahoma joining Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City Thunder.
OKC Zoo visitors will now have access to complimentary sensory bags that include fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphones and more. These sensory bags plus weighted lap blankets will be available for guests to checkout at no cost on a daily basis from the Zoo’s Guest Experience office in the Entry Plaza and Rosser Conservation Education Center. KultureCity’s comprehensive program also includes training for Zoo team members and volunteers on how to respond to guests with sensory needs and on grounds signage designating quiet zones and headphone zones for those who may feel overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the Zoo.
“We are dedicated to making the Oklahoma City Zoo accessible to everyone,” Dr. Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo executive director/CEO, said. “Through this initiative with KultureCity, we can ensure all of our guests have an opportunity to connect with our animal family, participate in our programs and experience all that the Zoo has to offer in a welcoming and inclusive environment.”
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, a factor for families exploring zoo grounds. In addition to the free sensory bags available on site, the OKC Zoo’s website will feature social stories and provide helpful information for guests planning their visits and anticipate what to expect.
“I, personally had the pleasure of training and working alongside with the Oklahoma City Zoo staff. Each and every team member was very eager to learn about sensory needs so they can help create an accessible environment for their community. KultureCity is excited to have a partnership with the OKC Zoo. This will truly be a positive experience for all families with special needs and unique abilities, allowing them to be included and have accessibility at all times.” Meagan Gravlee, KultureCity board member.
Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the Oklahoma City Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $11 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay up-to-date with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming Oklahoma Zoological Society members at ZOOfriends.org or in-person at the Zoo! To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.
KultureCity is a leading non-profit 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, 5 NFL stadiums, 5 NHL arenas and countless zoos, science centers and aquariums across the nation.
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