DZC is autism friendly!

We’re celebrating after being officially accredited for our work in making the zoo site more inclusive for those with sensory needs.

DZC’s Zoo Manager, Matt Lewis and DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion) champion, Rosie Whiteside celebrate the accreditation.

Plus, we’re the first zoo to receive an autism friendly certification from Dimensions, one of the country’s largest not-for-profit organisations supporting people with learning disabilities and autism, who also provided free training for some of our staff.

Zoo Manager, Matt Lewis, said: “Here at DZC we’re committed to being as accessible as possible and we’ve been working hard for this to happen.

“We’re incredibly proud to be the first zoo certified as autism friendly by Dimensions and we thank them for their continued support and advice.”

As part of our ongoing DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion) work, we will be holding our first pre-book only autism-friendly Quiet Morning on Sunday, May 19, for guests who would prefer a calmer environment.

The zoo will open at 9am on the day and all music and background sounds in indoor areas will be turned off for two hours. The land train will begin running later at 10.30am and a quiet room will also be available in the Discovery Centre throughout the day for those who may benefit.

To pre-book the 9am slot on May 19, please visit our website.

Any members who wish to visit during this time are asked to call our reception team on 01384 215313 to book in.

Additional signage and information boards, designed to help visitors identify various sensory environments have already been installed across the site we’ve also taken delivery of a number of sensory bags, which include ear defenders and sensory fidget toys.

These are available to hire on a first come first served basis from the Safari Shop with a £20 refundable deposit.

In addition, a new simple illustrated social story has been uploaded our website, which will allow visitors to prepare for a forthcoming visit.

This can be viewed HERE.

Matt added: “We understand a visit to the zoo can be daunting for those who may struggle with crowds and the different noises and smells associated with a zoo environment. We hope these new initiatives we’re putting in place will allow more people to be able to enjoy a day out at DZC discovering about the natural world around us.”

In her report to DZC, Dimensions Campaign Manager, Sarah Walters, said: “There are a few basic changes that can be made…but all in all, Dudley Zoo is already autism accessible, inclusive and (most importantly) welcoming.

“If more zoos can take such a proactive approach, it would mean a whole new experience for neurodiverse people.”