Seneca Park Zoo certified sensory inclusive

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

Seneca Park Zoo has been certified sensory inclusive by KultureCity, as announced by Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and zoo officials. 

The certification process entails staff and volunteers being trained in how to recognize and respond to guests with sensory needs, designation of quiet spaces and headphone zones, and the ability to offer guests sensory bags including noise-cancelling headphones and fidget tools.

“Individuals with sensory needs are a large and important part of our community, and this allows our zoo to be an even more welcoming, safe place to many,” Bello said. “I’m so proud that the zoo is the first organization in our region to achieve this innovative certification.”

Sensory sensitivities and challenges often are experienced by individuals with autism, dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to KultureCity, 1 in 6 individuals have a sensory need or invisible disability. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over-stimulation and noise.

“It’s scientifically proven that being in nature near wildlife can have calming health benefits, but we know that the zoo environment can be over-stimulating for those with sensory needs,” said Pamela Reed Sanchez, president and CEO of the Seneca Park Zoo Society. “We are thrilled to have received this certification, so we can serve these guests with the most comfortable and accommodating zoo experience possible. We look forward to partnering with AutismUp on programming specific for this audience.”

AutismUp, which serves over 2,500 families in the region, applauded the zoo on achieving this certification.

“Sensory processing can be debilitating and overwhelming for this population, often leading to isolation and inability to take part in community activities,” said Sarah Milko, executive director of AutismUp. “The fact that the zoo recognizes this and is committed to working with AutismUp on welcoming families and training staff to ensure the environment is inclusive to all is commendable and exciting for our families.”

The zoo is open daily. Timed tickets are required and available at senecaparkzoo.org.