Photo Courtesy of Brian Carsich and Nga Manu Nature Reserve.

Accessibility for Zoos and Aquariums

A core purpose of ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums is the importance of providing education of wildlife and their natural habitats to the whole of society. Therefore, many wildlife parks are dedicated to accommodating a safe and fun environment accessible for everyone to experience nature first-hand. Here are some great examples of how some of our accredited zoos and aquariums are making their experiences accessible.

Time to explore for everyone!

The National Zoo & Aquarium (NZA) and Jamala Wildlife Lodge are evaluated by “Get-About-Able", a company dedicated to improving travel and leisure options for people with disabilities. General accessibility features for NZA include disabled parking access with safe ramps nearby, accessible toilets, directional tactile ground surface indicators, flat and wide pathways and many more on mobility, visionary, hearing, intellectual/social and autism/sensory accessibility features.

Visit the website for more info on NZA’s accessibility.

Jamala Wildlife Lodge are also providing disabled parking access and accessible bathroom facilities as well as sliding doors within the sight of friendly assistance staff, Lemur rooms in accommodation are the most accessible and the closest to the reception and other accessible booking options.

Visit the website for more info on Jamala’s accessibility.

Safety first!

Ngā Manu Nature Reserve lead by example, showing the world the importance of providing a safe environment for everyone to experience nature first-hand – regardless of age or ability.

Here are some of the great initiatives they have taken:

  • Free entry for people with disabilities who are dependent on a carer – carer will also have free entry
  • Forest tracks are accessible to all, including wheelchairs and pushchairs
  • Wheelchair and walking frame available to hire from their Visitor Centre, free of charge
  • Walk-through aviaries are accessible to all, holding up to 15 people at a time
  • Wheelchairs can be accommodated in the seating area of their new Kiwi Night encounter experience
  • Ramp access to their buildings
  • Accessible toilets

Ngā Manu is in Waikanae on the Kāpiti Coast of New Zealand. That’s just a 50-minute drive from the capital city of Wellington. They are a sanctuary for NZ wildlife and their name means ‘Birds’ in Te reo Māori.

Adapt and act in different habitats

Though not yet an accredited member, our subscriber Parc Zoologique Et Forestier (working towards accreditation) has undergone different provisions and adaptations to facilitate the tour for zoogoers with disabilities.

They started by creating a safe environment around their front entrance, where the bus shelter now welcomes wheelchairs and the slopes’ percentage have been redefined to adapt with their traffic. Further, the path has been equipped with podotactile (textured payments) coatings to assist pedestrians who are visually impaired or blind. Across the zoo, there are wheelchair friendly picnic tables and swings, fully equipped accessible change rooms for adults, accessible gazebos and water-fountains, accessible ramps connecting various sites and easily-readable signs that are now clearer, larger and offer better visual contrast.

They also have inclusive activities available to everyone including birds hearing and touching with the visually impaired, animal encounters translated into sign language and other guided tours that are all hosted by a willing and caring team!

The New Caledonia zoo have developed partnerships with many local associations and offer a more personal welcome to many groups that visit for regular feeds to some of their animals or volunteer with the park’s maintenance.

When good neighbours become good friends

Every year Wellington Zoo invites its immediate neighbours like the Wellington City Council social housing tenants to visit the zoo for Neighbours’ Night. This is an event where the zoo opens until 8pm for neighbours to explore the zoo after hours for free and experience special animal talks, enjoy a free sausage sizzle, face painting, juice and much more! It is part of their commitment to social sustainability and a way of giving back to the local community.