Sunday, May 26

NC Zoo has Dedicated ‘Quiet Days’ for Guests with Sensory Issues

Photo provided by NC Zoo

ASHEBORO N.C. – The North Carolina Zoo has announced monthly dedicated ‘quiet days’ for guests with sensory issues.

In March of 2019, the NC Zoo announced they had become a ‘Certified Sensory Inclusive venue’ by KultureCity, a worldwide, leading non-profit recognized for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs.

“We are very excited to offer this program to enhance our inclusion efforts for all guests,” said the Zoo’s Guest Service Officer Jamie Merchel in a press release announcing the certification.

The certification process included training for the Zoo’s staff and volunteers on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.

In an article for Understood for All Inc, a non-profit group that advocates for neuro-divergent individuals, Ellen Braaten, PhD, director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital, says “Sensory overload happens when something around us overstimulates one or more of our senses…there’s suddenly too much information coming in through our senses for our brains to process.” For children and adults with sensory processing issues these environments aren’t just annoying but can cause physical discomfort or pain.

Quiet Days

Quiet Days at the Zoo offer a more sensory-friendly experience for those looking to visit the Zoo on a less crowded day. On these dedicated quiet days, the Zoo does not allow reservations for large groups or field trips and turns off all loud music and messaging at the entrances and throughout the Zoo.

While the new certification means the Zoo can be sensory friendly every day, the Zoo says on its website that visiting can still be overwhelming for some guests on busier days.

There will be one dedicated ‘Quiet Day’ each month throughout 2023. The zoo is still open to the public on these days.

If you are planning to visit the North Carolina Zoo with someone with sensory issues, below are some more information and resources to help get the most out of your Zoo trip.

Sensory Bags

Sensory bags containing special KCVIP badges, fidget tools, noise canceling headphones and other resources are available for checkout (at no cost by leaving an ID) at Guest Services offices located at the North America and Africa entrances and at Kidzone.

Weighted Lap Pads

Weighted lap pads are also available upon request (at no cost by leaving an ID) at Guest Services offices located at the North America and Africa entrances and at KidZone.

Quiet Zones

The Zoo has designated “Quiet Zones” throughout the park. These areas typically have less activity and spaces to sit and regroup after becoming overstimulated.  Quiet Zones are in the following locations:

  • Kid Zone Butterfly Pathway
  • Gazebo near Black Bear
  • Gazebo near the Desert
  • Gazebo near Lemur
  • Seating Area Near Baboon Trail
Headphone Zones
NC Zoo Map with sensory areas marked. (View full map)

The Zoo has identified areas that are noisy and where guests tend to linger as “Headphone Zones.”  These areas include:

  • Kidzone
  • Garden Friends Playground
  • Junction Plaza
  • Gorilla Playscape
  • Airhike/Treehouse Trek area

For more information visit the Accessibility section of the NC Zoo’s website.