Shown here are sensory features that are available when visiting the Zoo.
Posted June 2021
The Milwaukee County Zoo has partnered with KultureCity to make the Zoo and all the programs and events it hosts sensory inclusive. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests with a sensory issue that visit the Zoo. (The Zoo was certified in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the full program implementation was postponed.)
KultureCity is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that provides sensory inclusion training and tools to venues and large-scale events.
“We want to make sure the Zoo is a destination that everyone is able to visit and enjoy,” said Milwaukee County Zoo Interim Director, Vera Westphal. “The certification enables the Zoo to accommodate guests with sensory processing needs and make it a welcoming and positive experience.”
The certification process entailed staff at the Milwaukee County Zoo being trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize those guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.
Sensory bags, with noise canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, verbal cue cards (produced in conjunction with Boardmaker) and weighted lap pads will be available to all the Milwaukee County Zoo guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.
The Aviary’s Free Flight habitat is designated as a headphone zone.
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. KultureCity signage within the Zoo denotes loud areas where noise-cancelling headphones might be helpful and quieter areas where guests can relax.
“To know families can visit the Milwaukee County Zoo with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment. Our communities shape our lives, and to know that the Milwaukee County Zoo is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.” Dr. Julian Maha, Co-Founder, KultureCity.
The Flamingo Café is designated as a headphone zone.
Prior to attending an event, families can download the free KultureCity app to see what sensory features are available and where they can access them. The app also includes a Social Story, a photo preview of what to expect while visiting the Zoo.
For more information on the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Sensory Inclusion Certification, contact the Zoo’s Marketing and Communications Department at 414.256.5466.
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. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 350 sensory inclusive venues in 4 countries; this includes special events such as: NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, MLB All Star Weekend. KultureCity has won many awards for its efforts: NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2017, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Quiet Space Sensory Room at Quicken Loans Arena was a finalist for the 2018 Stadium Business Award, and the 2018 Clio Sports Silver for social good in partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers/Quicken Loans Arena. Recently, KultureCity was awarded one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 by FastCompany.