New York – August 2, 2021 – The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) four zoos and aquarium in New York City have all earned a certification through a partnership with KultureCity to make each park sensory inclusive.
The New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo have recently earned the KultureCity sensory certification. The Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo achieved their certifications in 2019. This relationship will promote an accommodating and positive experience for guests with sensory sensitivities during their visits to these iconic New York City wildlife parks.
“The partnership with KultureCity enables all of the WCS wildlife parks to provide a safe, comfortable environment for those with sensory challenges to enjoy and learn about animals and wildlife conservation,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and General Director of Zoos an Aquarium.
The certification process included staff training by leading medical professionals on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, and verbal cue cards (produced in conjunction with Boardmaker) will be available to all guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Guests can look for signage in the park to help identify areas of high volume (“Headphone Zones”) and areas where they can take a break (“Quiet Areas”).
“Whether you’re a resident of New York City or a visitor, everyone with unique abilities and sensory needs can now fully enjoy the zoos and aquarium,” said Uma Srivastava, Executive Director, KultureCity. “We’re honored to partner with WCS and it’s heartwarming to see the commitment WCS has shown in ensuring all five parks are certified.”
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. With their certifications, the WCS zoos and aquarium will be better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible.
Prior to attending a certified venue, families can download the free KultureCity App where they can view what sensory features are available and where they can access them. Also on the app is the Social Story section which will provide a preview of what to expect while enjoying the zoo.
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.