Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center are Sensory Certified

Zoo experiences for kids with special needs are in better reach since the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak and Belle Isle Nature Center in Detroit became sensory certified.

Sensory bags are now available at the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center. (Courtesy photo)

The Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center now have opportunities for everyone to join in the fun after becoming certified sensory inclusive.

The Detroit Zoological Society and Alabama-based nonprofit KultureCity teamed up to upgrade the venues’ programming. Staff and volunteers at both facilities also received training to help them spot guests with sensory needs and help them handle sensory overload, especially those living with autism, dementia and PTSD.

“We want to be able to support everyone who comes to the zoo so they feel welcome,” says Carla Van Kampen, DZS curator of education.

The zoo also provides guests with sensory bags filled with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools and more.

Plan out your trip

Before visiting, download the free KultureCity app at to view available sensory features.

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The Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is typically open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April-September (10 a.m.-4 p.m. the rest of the year), and the Belle Isle Nature Center in Detroit 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

As of April 2020, many venues are closed due to COVID-19 concerns; check back in for reopening updates.