Our Inclusive Community Connects Learning and Play

An Inclusive Experience
Audubon Nature Institute is creating an inclusive community where play and learning connect for all families at Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Our goal is to provide an inclusive and seamless experience for guests of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. By working across facilities to ensure current programs are more inclusive, Audubon will create an experience that addresses each visitor's unique needs—making Audubon more welcoming to all.

Raise Awareness of challenges facing people with special sensory processing needs among Audubon's staff and throughout the community

  • Increase accessibility throughout Audubon's museums for visitors with special sensory processing needs
  • Promote inclusive experiences for visitors with special sensory processing needs

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas became the first aquarium in the country to be certified a sensory inclusive aquarium on Sunday, February 25, 2018. Along with the Aquarium, Audubon Zoo was certified by KultureCity, making it one of the first of ten zoos in the country to be recognized. KultureCity, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to rethinking accessibility to create acceptance and inclusion for all individuals.

KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using their resources to effect change in the community for those with sensory needs; not just those with Autism. KultureCity has created several sensory inclusive venues including NBA arenas, NHL arenas, NFL stadiums, restaurants, zoos, an aquarium, and a science center.

Audubon Nature Institute Staff
Audubon Nature Institute's staff receives ongoing professional development training to better assist visitors and their families. Please don't hesitate to ask an Audubon staff member for assistance during your visit to an Audubon museum.

Social Story
A social story highlights Audubon's exhibits from a first-person perspective and helps visitors know what to expect during their visit at the Zoo, Aquarium, or Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.

Sensory Resources at Audubon Attractions

Weighted Lap Pads
At attractions which may require visitors to remain seated for an extended time, Audubon offers weighted lap pads to assist families who have children with special sensory needs. These lap pads are available upon request at the following locations:

  • Zoo Information Booth
  • Aquarium Guest Services Booth

Sensory Bags
Sensory bags containing noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and other resources are available upon request at the following locations:

  • Zoo Information Booth
  • Aquarium Guest Services Booth

Quiet Zones
Audubon has designated "Quiet Zones" throughout our museums. These areas typically have less activity and provide spaces to sit and regroup after becoming overstimulated. Quiet Zones are designated by signs at Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

Headphone Zones
Audubon has identified noisier spaces as "Headphone Zones" throughout our attractions. Headphone Zones are identified by signs at Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

Wheelchair Accessibility
For Guests requiring assistance, wheelchairs are available for rent at all Audubon attractions.

  • Wheel chairs are available at the Zoo information booth
  • Wheel chairs are available at the Aquarium information booth

Service Animals
Guests with disabilities are permitted to bring service animals to all areas of Audubon facilities where guests are normally allowed-with the exception of Watoto Walk (contact yard) and Audubon Aviary at the Zoo, and Parakeet Pointe at Audubon Aquarium. Animals exhibiting signs of ill health or aggressive behavior will not be allowed. In the event that a guest's service animal is denied admittance, other assistance will be provided upon request. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support (ESA), therapy animals or animals that provide a service to others not present (dogs in-training) do not qualify as "service animals" under the ADA and are not allowed in Audubon facilities.

Inclusive Playground in Audubon Park
Located near the intersection of St. Charles Avenue and Walnut Street, Audubon Park's Inclusive Playground offers a welcoming environment for children with various ranges of mobility challenges. Thanks to the generous support of Drew and Brittany Brees and the Brees Dream Foundation, the playground presents a variety of features that provide sensory engagement and promote the development of motor skills, including wheelchair-accessible equipment and interactive physical, cognitive, visual, and hearing experiences.