Headphone zone signs

The Akron Zoo launched our sensory inclusion program in 2017. We were the second zoo in the country and the first in Ohio to become certified sensory inclusive.

We have partnered with KultureCity to improve our ability to assist and accommodate guests with sensory processing needs. Our objective is to provide an inclusive and seamless experience for ALL guests, regardless of age and ability, including those with sensory processing needs.

As part of the sensory inclusion program, the Akron Zoo offers various resources to help make your visit possible:

Sensory Bags

Sensory bag items

Sensory bags containing fidget tools, noise-canceling headphones, an Akron Zoo AAC and other resources, and are available for checkout (at no cost by leaving a form of collateral) in our Welcome Center reception office.

Weighted Lap Pads

Weighted lap pads are also available upon request (at no cost by leaving a form of collateral) in our Welcome Center reception office.

Quiet Areas

The zoo has designated “Quiet Areas” throughout the park. These areas typically have less activity and spaces to sit and regroup after becoming overstimulated.

Quiet Areas are in the following locations:
  • Andean condor habitat
  • Outside Galapagos tortoise habitat
  • Grizzly Ridge overlook
  • Lehner Family Zoo Gardens terrace

Headphone Zones

We have identified areas that are noisy from guests or animals, crowded and where guests tend to linger as “Headphone Zones.”

These areas include:
  • Madagascar Circle
  • Carousel plaza
  • Komodo Kingdom Education Center
  • Otter slide area
  • Pride of Africa train depot
  • Pride of Africa area near lions and misters
  • Wild Asia plaza
  • Wild Asia treehouse area

Both the Quiet Areas and Headphone Zones are marked with signage and labeled on the Akron Zoo map.

Guest Comfort Station

Located across from the penguin habitat, the Guest Comfort Station is a private room where guests can go for a few minutes of privacy. The room is also available for nursing mothers.

Adult changing tableNEW! Adult Changing Table

An adult changing table is available for use in the Guest Comfort Station. Please contact an Akron Zoo staff member or call 330-375-2550 for assistance in setting up the table. 

Akron Zoo AAC

The Akron Zoo Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) board is available for guests who are non-verbal, minimally speaking or language learning to use as a tool to communicate with Akron Zoo staff members and other guests. 
The AAC board was designed specifically for the Akron Zoo by Inspire Connections Therapy and includes our animals, areas in the park and frequently asked questions. Guests using an AAC will be able to point to the icons in order to communicate with others.
Guests can access the AAC free of charge in a couple different ways:  

  • Request your own copy of the AAC board at our ticket counter. The paper copy is yours to keep! 
  • An AAC board will be available in every sensory bag. These copies are available for use during your visit, but must remain with the bag when you return it. 
  • Pull up a copy of the AAC board by clicking the button below. You can use on your phone or tablet, or you can print it yourself at home.  

 Akron Zoo AAC

Social Story

Click here for more information on the social story to assist with planning your zoo visit. 

Plan your visit

Staff Training

The most powerful aspect of the sensory inclusion program is the continued staff training. All of our staff participate in training sessions designed to raise their awareness of sensory processing disorders, inform them about the services provided through the sensory inclusion program and discuss strategies that they can implement in their daily work to help the Akron Zoo reach its goal to be “sensory inclusive.”

Zoothing Hours

The Akron Zoo offers various dates throughout the year called Zoothing Hour. The Akron Zoo opens an hour early for guests with different abilities who do not like loud noises and/or crowds. During Zoothing Hour, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the zoo before it opens to the public at 10 a.m.

The zoo also offers a time during Boo at the Zoo called Zoothing Boo at the Zoo where guests with different abilities can purchase a special ticket to get into Boo at the Zoo an hour early to trick-or-treat.

NEW for 2023: Our first ever Zoothing Wild Lights will be offered - an entire evening will be dedicated for guests with different abilities to enjoy the holiday lights!  

Questions about the sensory inclusion program? Contact Elena Bell, Senior Marketing & PR Manager, at e.bell@akronzoo.org or 330-375-2550 ext. 7251.