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Sensory Inclusive

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is now a certified Sensory Inclusive facility, registered with KultureCity. Our staff is trained, and we offer tools to help guests with sensory needs and challenges have the best experience at the Zoo.

And you can bring your caregiver or therapist for free with a paid membership or admission: just buy your own timed online ticket and bring it to a staff member at the front gate.

What we offer

Zoo Social Story
Visual Schedule
Kulture City app
Sensory Bags

Welcoming Everyone

Experiencing our Zoo
Keller's story

Six-year-old Keller is different in a really important – but invisible – way. He has autism, and the way he (and others with sensory needs) experiences our zoo just got a whole lot better.

Read the story

Sensory FAQ

What are sensory needs/sensory processing issues?

A sensory need/sensory processing issue 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 sensory inclusion?

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

How many people have a disability in the USA?

One in five. 16% have visible disabilities; the remaining 84% have invisible disabilities like PTSD, autism, dementia, strokes, etc. The common denominator for these groups are sensory issues.

What is the difference between sensory inclusion and sensory friendly?

Sensory friendly is where a location has had all the potentially noxious stimuli removed. Because this is sometimes a difficult task, accessibility is thus limited to the day of the sensory friendly event.

Sensory inclusion creates daily accessibility with training, tools and other modifications that, although they do not remove noxious stimuli, help the guest cope with potential overstimulation better, thus ensuring an accepting and inclusive experience for all.

Why are we partnering with KultureCity?

KultureCity helps by providing training, signage, sensory bags and more to create a welcoming experience.

Why are we doing this?

To allow everyone the opportunity to have a great experience at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Are there more sensory inclusive places near here?

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was one of the first venues in Washington to be certified as sensory inclusive with KultureCity. Our sister zoo Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is another. Find more venues on the app.