Binder Park Zoo has partnered with KultureCity to receive certification in order to better accommodate, and provide a more positive experience for guests with sensory issues who visit the zoo.
The certification process included special training for zoo staff to recognize guests with sensory needs as well as the ability to handle a sensory overload situation. Special sensory bags containing Puro Sound Labs noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools and verbal cue cards will be available for guests to check out at the entrance gate of the zoo at no charge. Guests can use the sensory bags in the event they feel overwhelmed by the zoo environment during their visit. Additionally, quiet zones inside the zoo are marked where guests can take a break from their visit, or recover from a sensory overload situation.
Sensory sensitivities, or challenges with sensory regulation can be a frequent experience for individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. A major barrier to enjoying things like a visit to the zoo for these individuals can be their sensitivity to overstimulation and noise. With this important certification, Binder Park Zoo is better prepared to help provide guests with sensory sensitivities a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
“Our goal is to provide an exceptional experience to all our guests, and this exciting partnership with KultureCity improves our ability to accommodate guests with sensory needs” says Renee Newman, Operations Manager at Binder Park Zoo. “Through specialized training, our staff is now trained to recognize and assist guests with sensory issues.”
Prior to a visit, a guest can download the free KultureCity App and view what sensory features are available at the zoo and where they are. They can also access the Social Story – a visual preview of the destination to better plan for what they can expect when they arrive.
The zoo website www.binderparkzoo.org is also a resource where guests can find details like hours of operation, the zoo map and other helpful information to help plan a visit.
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs, not just those with autism. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 350 sensory-inclusive venues in four countries: this includes special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl and MLB All Star Weekend. KultureCity has won many awards for its efforts, including the NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2017 and the 2018 Clio Sports Silver for social good in partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers/Quicken Loans Arena. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Quiet Space Sensory Room at Quicken Loans Arena was a finalist for the 2018 Stadium Business Award, and recently, KultureCity was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 by FastCompany.
Binder Park Zoo is located in southwest Michigan and home to a diverse array of exotic and native animal species. The natural and spacious habitat design that blends animal habitats into the surrounding landscape is a 43-year hallmark of the zoo that respects animals and delights guests. Delivering the message of conservation through engaging programs and fun experiences lies at the heart of the zoo’s mission to Connect. Inspire. Conserve. Connect people with nature. Inspire them to conserve. The Conservation Carousel, vintage Z.O. & O. miniature train and trip to the 50-acre Wild Africa exhibit aboard the Wilderness Tram are but several zoo adventures that entertain while making meaningful connections to nature. Binder Park Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).