Zoo Miami is the first zoo in Florida to earn the designation
Zoo Miami is making a commitment to ensure all visitors, even those with sensory needs or on the autism spectrum, have an amazing experience. As part of this commitment, the Zoo recently earned the Certified Autism Center designation, which is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations who have completed a training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs.
“Zoo Miami aims to provide each guest with an enjoyable visit and is proud to be designated as a certified autism center. Our staff has undergone training to be able to better serve guests with autism and other special needs,” said Carol Kruse, Zoo Miami Director.
Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find new experiences and traveling to new destinations a challenge due to sensory needs, dietary restrictions and safety concerns. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children with special needs have limited travel options and created programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry.
“We believe it’s important to ensure all guests can experience the world around them in a safe way,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “Our Certified Autism Center designation is awarded to premier organizations who have completed rigorous training and meet the highest industry standards, and we’re so excited to work with Zoo Miami on this initiative.”
In addition to the certification, Zoo Miami is working on creating sensory bags for special needs guests that contain noise-cancelling headphones and fidget toys or stress balls before the end of the year. Quiet places will also be identified within the zoo by the first quarter of 2019. In preparation for Autism Awareness Month in April, Zoo Miami will also provide Zoo Sensory Guides to ensure the best possible experience for guests with disabilities.
Rather than relying on the growing number of organizations promoting “autism-friendly” options that can vary widely, more parents are now seeking out destinations that have completed research-based training and professional review. IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center requirements.
About Zoo Miami
With nearly 1 million annual visitors, Zoo Miami is part of the Miami-Dade County Parks Recreation and Open Spaces (PROS) Department and home to more than 3,000 animals from all over the world. Among many sights, visitors can enjoy the Florida: Mission Everglades expansion with alligators, bobcats, bald eagles, a Florida panther and more impressive Florida natives. Guests can slide along otters, come face to face with bears, crawl through a tunnel in the crocodile exhibit, float along the Lostman’s River “airboat” ride, play in the Cypress Landing Playground and more!
Zoo Miami is open every day of the year from 10:00AM – 5:00PM with the last ticket being sold at 4:00PM. Admission is $22.95 plus tax per adult and $18.95 plus tax per child ages 3-12. Children under three are free. Zoo memberships offer free access year round. For tickets, membership and information, visit www.zoomiami.org or call (305) 251-0400.
About Zoo Miami Foundation
As a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator, Zoo Miami Foundation is the non-profit 501(c)(3) that supports Zoo Miami through education, conservation and outreach programs; marketing and public relations; volunteer services and financial support for the construction of new exhibits. The Foundation serves more than 20,000 member households through its zoo membership program. For more information, visit www.zoomiami.org or call (305) 255-5551.