Buttonwood Park Zoo makes accommodations for guests with sensory needs

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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford has taken steps to make sure visits are a comfortable and positive experience for all guests.

On Tuesday, the zoo announced it’s been certified as sensory inclusive through a partnership with KultureCity.

Beginning Sept. 25, sensory bags containing noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, and verbal cue cards were made available in the North Woods Gift Shop to guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.

In addition, zoo officials said the staff has been trained on how to recognize guests with sensory needs as well as how to handle a sensory overload situation.

“To know that you soon will be able to see families visit the Buttonwood Park Zoo with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend is truly a heartwarming moment,” KultureCity Executive Director Traci Johnson said. “Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Zoo is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”

Sensory sensitivities often arise in people with autism, PTSD, dementia and other similar conditions. Noise and overstimulation can be major barriers for these individuals, both of which are possible in the zoo environment.

Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence also teamed up with KultureCity in an effort to be more sensory inclusive.

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