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Dallas Zoo Now Offering Sensory-Friendly Tools, Quiet Room

Dallas Zoo
Noise-cancelling headphones are one tool now offered by the Dallas Zoo to help visitors with sensory issues.

The zoo can be a challenging place for people with sensory issues. The sounds, sights and smells — taken altogether — can easily overwhelm someone with a condition like autism, dementia or post-traumatic stress.

To help those visitors, the Dallas Zoo has been certified as "sensory inclusive." That means visitors have access to things like noise cancelling headphones, weighted lap pads and even fidget tools and verbal cue cards — all of which can help ease sensory overload.

“We want everyone to have an opportunity to join us in creating a better world for animals,” said Tonya McDaniel, Dallas Zoo’s Education Supervisor of Family and Intergenerational Learning.

The zoo partnered with KultureCity, a nonprofit that's created hundreds of sensory-inclusive venues across the country. The nonprofit helped design programs and events, in addition to training staff members to recognize a sensory overload situation.

Dallas Zoo officials say they want everyone to be able to enjoy their exhibits and upcoming events. Visitors can download a smartphone app to learn more about the new sensory features and where to access them.