Zoo Miami becomes Florida's first Certified Autism Center zoo

Zoo Miami becomes Florida's first Certified Autism Center zoo
Image via Twitter | MDCPS
As we gain more awareness and understanding of autism, more attractions are attempting to improve how they accommodate those with varied sensory needs. Partnering with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), Zoo Miami recently became the first zoo in the state named a Certified Autism Center by the organization.

Staff at the zoo went through special autism awareness training, and an audit was performed to identify whether the zoo can become more welcoming to guests on the autism spectrum.

“Zoo Miami aims to provide each guest with an enjoyable visit and is proud to be designated as a certified autism center. Our staff has undergone training to be able to better serve guests with autism and other special needs,” says Carol Kruse, Zoo Miami director, in a statement.

Sensory bags with noise-canceling headphones and stress/fidget toys will be available to guests. Sensory Guides are also being designed that will identify quiet areas and possible triggers around the zoo.

Legoland Florida began offering similar sensory accommodations earlier this year, while Disney, previously a leader in the field, has faced multiple lawsuits as it tries to accommodate guests with autism.

Across the industry, there have been significant strides in recent years to best address the needs of certain guests while providing a safe and enjoyable environment for all. Earlier this year SeaWorld-owned Sesame Place became the first theme park in the world to be a Certified Autism Center by the IBCCES. SeaWorld’s zoological director, Kelly Flaherty Clark, also serves on the IBCCES Advisory Board.

“We believe it’s important to ensure all guests can experience the world around them in a safe way,” says Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “Our Certified Autism Center designation is awarded to premier organizations who have completed rigorous training and meet the highest industry standards, and we’re so excited to work with Zoo Miami on this initiative.”

Zoo Miami’s autism accommodations and awareness training will take place over the next few months, with a goal of being completely rolled out  ahead of Autism Awareness Month in April.

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