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The Virginia Zoo has partnered with non-profit KultureCity to become a Certified Sensory Inclusive facility.

This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests who visit the Zoo. KultureCity, who works with many zoos and aquariums around the country, is a global organization recognized for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs.

Our objective is to provide an inclusive and seamless experience for all guests for all events including those with sensory needs. We strive to raise awareness of the needs and challenges faced by individuals with sensory processing disorders by supplying our Team Members with continuous training and by offering the resources and accommodations below to our guests.

 

Sensory Bags

Sensory backpacks and weighted lap pads are available in the Membership Office located inside the Zoo, to the right upon entering through the Ticket Booth.

Bags include: noise reducing headphones, wacky track fidget, Monkey tube fidget, Marble fidget, visual cue card and KultureCity VIP lanyard.

Bags are available for checkout at no cost to those visiting the Zoo.

WEIGHTED LAP PADS

Weighted lap pads are also available upon request (at no cost by leaving an ID) for our Zoo Train experience, which is located at the podium at the Zoo Train.

SOCIAL STORY AND KULTURECITY ALL-INCLUSIVE APP

Download the KultureCity All-Inclusive App to get your social story to help you further with your visit to the Virginia Zoo:

FAQs

What is the sensory inclusion initiative?

The sensory inclusion initiative is designed to help arenas, zoos, aquariums, museums, restaurants and other places of public attraction better entertain their guests that might have sensory needs/sensory processing issues.

 

What is a sensory need/sensory processing issues?

A sensory need/sensory processing issues is one where the guest affected by this finds noises, smells, lights and even crowds not only overwhelming from the sensory perspective but also sometimes physically painful. Because of this, these guests often find themselves isolated from the community.

 

What is the difference between sensory inclusion and sensory friendly?

Sensory friendly is one where the location has had all the potentially noxious stimuli removed. Because this is sometimes a difficult task, accessibility is therefore limited to the day and location of the sensory friendly event. Sensory inclusion liberates that. It creates daily accessibility with training, tools and other modifications that although do not remove the noxious stimuli. help the guest cope with this potential sensory over stimulation better thus ensuring an accepting and inclusive experience for all.

 

What are some groups that are affected by sensory need/sensory processing issues?

These could be guests with PTSD, autism, early onset dementia, anxiety, stroke patients just to name a few.

 

How does partnering with KultureCity help?

KultureCity helps by providing the necessary training to better entertain guests with these needs. They also provide signage, weighted lap pads, sensory bags that contain noise cancelling headphones, fidgets tools and much more in order to truly create a welcoming experience for these guests.

 

What is the end result of the initiative?

It helps all guests feel welcome and included in our locations. It also helps us reach a huge portion of our community that has long been isolated.

 

How many people have a disability in the USA?

1 in 5. With 16% having visible disabilities and the remanding 84% with invisible disabilities like PTSD, autism, dementia, strokes etc. The common denominator for these groups are sensory issues.