Lincoln Children’s Zoo becomes certified sensory inclusive

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – This week, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo certified sensory inclusive to accommodate guests with sensory issues such as autism or PTSD.

The zoo partnered with KultureCity, a nationwide nonprofit organization that has created over 1,000 sensory inclusive public and private services, organizations, events and venues in 6 countries.

Director of Communications Erin Lenz says “We are so excited to be partnering with KultureCity to become a certified sensory inclusive location and we are the first one in Nebraska.”

Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation such as autism or dementia can be tough for some who attend the zoo.

One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise.

To accommodate those guests the Zoo was given sensory bags which can be picked up right at the front entrance for free.

Items include noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys, feeling cards that have verbal cues, a lanyard and more.

Lenz says with the certification, all zoo staff is trained on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.

The zoo also added headphone zones in areas that might get too loud such as the Secret Jungle or certain attractions.

“Within the Secret Jungle we have the Jungle Outpost that has some really loud birds, its a small room and it can get pretty noisy.” Lenz explains. “There is also Ellie the Elephant play structure that can get pretty loud, even our penguin exhibit. We have two shows a day during the summer, where people are cheering and they are loud. So that might be a great place to put on headphones if you’re somebody who can get overstimulated by loud noises.”

For those who do need a chance to reset, there is also signage for quiet areas for those feeling over stimulated.

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is also the first sensory inclusive certified organization in the state.

KultureCity has an app that you can download to your mobile device where you can view what sensory features are available and where you can access them.

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