CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
502-238-5331 (Media Cell 502-744-5639)
Today, the Louisville Zoo opened a new accessible playground near the African Outpost restaurant and Colobus Crossing exhibit. The Outpost playground dedicated today replaces 20-year-old equipment and includes ramps, music and sensory play panels, features for inclusive side-by-side play, slides and a new rubber surface throughout the entire playscape.
Former Metro Councilwoman Angela Leet and her legislative assistant, Erin Hinson, were instrumental in advocating for the playground for children in the community. Many past and current Metro Council members contributed to the project. Funds were raised in late 2018 and work to replace the playground was completed in early 2020.
“After a year of patiently waiting during the pandemic, we are excited to open this beautiful new accessible playground today,” said Zoo Director John Walczak. “Creating opportunities for everyone to have a great experience at the Zoo is so important to us. This new playground advances that focus and work. Its opening today represents positive change and assists families and individuals who love and support children living with physical or sensory challenges so they can have a shared common experience with their friends, family members and peers at the Zoo. Making lasting, happy memories at the Zoo is something we hope everyone has the opportunity to enjoy.”
Erin Hinson and her husband Nathan and sons Oliver and Henry self-describe themselves as “huge zoo fans.” Erin and Henry have helped the Zoo reimagine how it can better serve the community through the creation of the playground. Henry was born with the spinal defects spina bifida and Chiari II malformation, as well as hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain. Erin and Nathan have instilled in Henry that he can do anything and, as parents, they do whatever they can to inspire organizations and people to create inclusive experiences for all.
“Today, as we celebrate the opening of this playground, it is my hope that children of all abilities can climb, wheel, explore, discover, and most importantly, play together for years to come,” said Angela Leet. “Accessible and inclusive play isn’t just good for children, but it’s good for our entire community as it offers a place for everyone to come and learn from each other. A big thank you to the Suburban City Mayors of District 7 and to many former and current members of the Louisville Metro Council as this playground would not have been possible without their support.”
Walczak, Leet, Henry and Erin Hinson, along with Louisville Metro Chief Vincent James were on hand for the ribbon-cutting today. The new Outpost playspace is now open to the public during the Zoo’s regular operating hours.
Special thanks to the following councilpersons and former councilpersons without whom this project would not have been possible:
- Councilwoman Jessica Green, District 1
- Former Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, District 3
- Former Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, District 4
- Former Councilwoman Angela Leet, District 7
- Councilman Pat Mulvihill, District 10
- Councilman Kevin Kramer, District 11
- Councilman Rick Blackwell, District 12
- Former Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch, District 13
- Councilwoman Cindi Fowler, District 14
- Councilman Scott Reed, District 16
- Former Councilman Glen Stuckel, District 17
- Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, District 18
- Former Councilwoman Julie Denton, District 19
- Councilman Stuart Benson, District 20
- Former Councilman Vitalis Lanshima District 21
- Councilman Robin Engel, District 22
- Councilman James Peden, District 23
- Councilwoman Madonna Flood, District 24
Louisville Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (enjoy until 6 p.m.) through September 19, 2021.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).