New features at Sacramento Zoo welcome visitors with autism, dementia, PTSD and more

For some, going to the zoo can be just too much. That’s why this summer the Sacramento Zoo partnered with a nonprofit and medical professionals to make the space more accessible to sensory sensitive individuals that live with autism, dementia, PTSD and similar conditions.

In collaboration with KultureCity, a nonprofit that works to increase accessibility for individuals with sensory needs in local communities, zoo staff brainstormed ideas and welcomed visitors’ suggestions. And within 24 hours of posting sensory awareness signs, Director of Education Ann Geger said requests began flowing in.

First, the zoo is introducing sensory bags equipped with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads, according to a news release. A quiet room will also be available on the premises for those who need to quiet down.

If you’ve been to the zoo already, you know that events can be extremely loud and busy: That’s where the KultureCity app comes in. The app will allow families to check out sensory features available at events before attending, in order to prevent sensory-overload situations and enjoy the shows as comfortably as possible.

The zoo’s new features will allow many individuals with sensory challenges to attend for the first time, according to KultureCity Co-Founder Julian Maha.

“Making the zoo experience more accessible is so rewarding for all of us; we are so happy to be working with KultureCity,” Geger said in the release.

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Caroline Ghisolfi, from Stanford University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and health care. She grew up in Milan, Italy.