The Zoo is providing an enhanced experience for Angelenos with autism, dementia, PTSD, and other sensory needs

World-renowned non-profit KultureCity has certified the Los Angeles Zoo as a sensory inclusive venue. The Zoo joins over 900 other KultureCity certified venues in five countries serving those with sensory needs. This is a major next step for the L.A. Zoo in the work to create an inclusive and equitable space for every guest.

“Los Angeles is known for its cultural diversity, but we’re also committed to looking at all elements of diversity and creating a space where every single member of our communities is welcomed, included, and can truly belong,” said Denise M. Verret, CEO & zoo director of the Los Angeles Zoo. “In order to provide an experience where our guests walk away with a renewed connection to wildlife and nature, we had to take the time to learn about sensory needs and adapt experiences for the benefit of everyone. Our goal is to co-create a future where people and wildlife thrive, together, and that involves everyone, including those with sensory needs.”

“This is a key milestone in the City of Los Angeles’s efforts to become the most accessible Big City in America,” said Stephen David Simon, executive director of the City of Los Angeles’s Department on Disability. “The L.A. Zoo’s commitment to creating a safe, nurturing space where children and adults with sensory needs can more fully enjoy the Zoo’s amenities furthers the City’s commitment to proposing, developing, and implementing policies, programs, services, and activities that improves the quality of life for all persons with disabilities.”

Challenges with sensory regulation, or sensory needs, are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in a place like the L.A. Zoo. With this new certification, the Zoo is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and inclusive experience possible when attending the Zoo. As part of the KultureCity certification, the L.A. Zoo’s staff were trained by industry professionals on varying sensory needs, the sensory inclusive components throughout our campus, and how to best support all individuals in having a successful Zoo experience.

“Our communities are what shapes our lives, and to know that the Los Angeles Zoo is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing,” said Uma Srivastava, executive director of KultureCity. “We’re honored to partner with the L.A. Zoo to provide a truly inclusive experience for all guests!”

At the Zoo’s International Marketplace, sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads will be available to all guests who may benefit from their use.  Prior to visiting the Zoo, families can download the free KultureCity App from the App or Google Play Stores where they can view what sensory features are available at the Zoo and where they can access them. Also, on the app is the Social Story, which will provide a preview of what to expect while enjoying a day at the L.A. Zoo. Guests interested in knowing more about the new sensory inclusive experience at the L.A. Zoo should visit the Zoo’s website.

About the Los Angeles Zoo

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing more than 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of over 2,300 animals representing 270 different species, 58 of which are endangered. Its lush grounds on 133 acres feature various plant species from around the world and California including many rare and endangered species. The Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $22 for adults and $17 for children ages 2 to 12. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo website at lazoo.org.

About the Department on Disability

The City of Los Angeles Department on Disability is committed to ensuring full access to employment, programs, facilities, and services. This is accomplished through a wide range of partnerships, community outreach and education, training, and research. For more information about the Department on Disability, call (213) 202-2764 voice, or (213) 202-3452 TTY, or visit our website at disability.lacity.org.

About KultureCity

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 900 sensory-inclusive venues in five countries: this includes special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, MLB World Series, 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, KultureCity was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 and 2020 by FastCompany and recently won the Industry Partner Award in The Stadium Business Design & Development Awards 2019. For more information, visit www.kulturecity.org.