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The Louisville Zoo is now KultureCity Sensory Inclusive™ Certified to promote an accommodating, positive experience for all guests with a sensory issue who visit the Zoo!

The latest US Census data shows that one in six people have a sensory need or an invisible disability such as autism, dementia, PTSD, or hearing or vision loss. People with invisible disabilities tend to react differently and get overwhelmed more easily than neurotypical individuals due to various sensory sensitivities. With this in mind, the Louisville Zoo has partnered with KultureCity and are now certified and equipped with special tools to help better serve our guests with sensory needs.

The sensory initiative allows individuals with sensory processing needs the ability to see and experience all the world has to offer, without being overwhelmed by everything going on around them. Special signage has been placed around the Zoo to identify noisy and quiet areas and sensory bags are available for checkout at no cost to the individuals and/or families visiting the Zoo.

The sensory bags are designed for both adults and children with sensory needs and are filled with items that can help lessen sensory overload. The sensory bags include fidget items and noise-reducing headphones. These tools, along with proper training in how to approach individuals with invisible disabilities, can make a vital difference at crucial times.

Sensory Bags are available for families to checkout free of charge the day of their visit. A guest can reserve a bag online or checkout a bag in person. To pick-up your sensory bag in person, please visit the wheelchair/stroller rental booth at the Zoo’s Main Plaza. To reserve a bag in advance, click the link below.

Reserve Your Sensory Bag Online

When finished, guests are asked to return the sensory bags to the wheelchair/stroller rental booth at the Main Plaza, so Louisville Zoo staff can clean and disinfect the contents before their next use.

Prior to visiting the Zoo, you can download the free KultureCity App on your mobile device to view what sensory features are available and where you can access them. Also on the app is the Social Story, which will provide a short preview of what to expect.

To view the Zoo’s Social Story, which provides a preview of what guests can expect to see, do and smell while at the Zoo, please download the free KultureCity App on your mobile device. The app can be found in the App Store or Google Play. The app also provides info about what sensory features are available and where you can access them at the Louisville Zoo.

We are proud to be trained and trusted advocates for those with sensory needs.

If at any time during your visit you need assistance, please speak to a Louisville Zoo team member or call the Front Desk at (502)-459-2181. We are here to help.

Visit kulturecity.org for more information.

Additional information regarding our Sensory Bags:

  • Reserved bags will be held for the entire day for the person to pick up at their leisure
  • All unreserved bags are available on a first come, first served basis
  • A valid ID will be collected and secured in the rental area
  • Contact information will be completed on a brief form
  • The guests’ ID will be returned when our sensory bags and items are turned back in

A map will be made available for those who need it and will include areas marked for

  • Quiet Areas
  • Headphone Zones
  • A QR code to scan and access our website with information regarding the program

Upon return, all bags are checked for their contents and then thoroughly wiped down using alcohol wipes to clean and sanitize them.  They will be allowed to dry completely before being refilled and available for the next guest.

What is the sensory inclusion initiative?
KultureCity’s sensory inclusion initiative is designed to help arenas, zoos, aquariums, museums, restaurants, and other places of public attraction better serve their guests who might have sensory needs/sensory processing issues.

What is a sensory need/sensory processing issue?
A sensory need/sensory processing issue is one where the affected guest 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 are some groups that are affected by sensory need/sensory processing issues?
These could be guests with PTSD, autism, dementia, anxiety, or stroke patients just to name a few.

How does partnering with KultureCity help?
KultureCity helps by providing the necessary training to better serve guests with these needs. They also provide signage, weighted lap pads, sensory bags that contain noise-reducing  headphones, fidget tools, and much more in order to truly create a welcoming experience for all persons.

What is the end result of the initiative?
Common sounds, lights, crowds and even certain smells might not only be overwhelming but also physically painful.  For this reason, affected individuals may withdraw from communities not by choice but by circumstance as they worry about how the world and others will accept or include them.  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 6 individuals have a sensory need or an invisible disability.  These are individuals with PTSD, autism, dementia, strokes, etc. just to name a few.

What is a Quiet Area?
A quiet area is simply a location that may be helpful to someone who may need to take a break to rest and calm themselves. The areas identified as Quiet Areas at the Louisville Zoo can still be used for activities as usual.

What is the difference between sensory inclusion and sensory friendly?
Sensory friendly is an event 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 this challenge. 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 overstimulation ensuring an accepting and inclusive experience for all.

How can I learn more and become sensory inclusive trained?
Learn more about KultureCity at www.kulturecity.org.

Reserve Your Sensory Bag Online

Sensory Bag

Each Bag Should Include:

  • Noise-Reducing Headphones (with bag) x1
  • Marble Fidget x1
  • Noodle Fidget x1
  • Tangle Fidget x1
  • Visual Cue Card x1
  • ID Card (breakaway lanyard) x1

Optional Sensory Item: Lap Pad

  • Lap Pad x1
  • Water Pen x2

Reserve Your Sensory Bag Online

QA — Quiet Area
Head here to escape from overstimulation in a quieter, more secure environment.

HZ — Headphone Zone
Use your noise-reducing headphones here, the atmosphere may be noisier.

SB — Sensory Bags
Free of charge, rent a sensory bag on the front plaza with noise-reducing headphones provided by Puro Sound Labs, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads.