Como Zoo adds sensory-friendly dates for guests with autism

Alice, a 15-year-old western lowland gorilla, and her yet-unnamed baby. Photo courtesy of Como Zoo. 

The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota is adding sensory-friendly days to its schedule this year for guests with autism and other sensory needs.

On each Autism Friendly Entry Day, Como Zoo will open an hour early to allow guests with autism and other sensory needs to explore the exhibits and participate in activities designed specifically for them. The purpose of the program is to reduce the anxiety of visitors who may normally be overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds at the zoo. 

The zoo also collaborated with the Autism Society of Minnesota to create a “Social Narrative” guide that explains to visitors “what to expect step-by-step as they explore the zoo and conservatory,” according to a news release. A visual schedule and sensory map are also available. 

There are 18 Autism Friendly Entry Days on the schedule for 2018. 

2018 Dates

Sun. Feb. 11
Sun March 11
Sun. April 8
Sun. May 13
Sun. June 10
Wed. June 13
Sun. July 8
Wed. July 11
Sun. July 22
Wed. July 25
Sun. Aug 5
Wed. Aug 8
Sun. Aug 19
Wed. Aug 22
Sun. Sept. 9
Sun. Oct. 14
Sun. Nov. 11
Sun. Dec. 9