News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
March 19, 2018
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
 
NOTE: Images of Zoos Go Blue activities at Brookfield Zoo may be downloaded at below:

photo creditL Chicago Zoological Society
DSC_01.jpg: Special animal Zoo Chats are scheduled during Brookfield Zoo’s autism awareness day event. The informal talks offers families an opportunity to have up-close interactions with the zoo’s ambassador animals.
DSC_02.jpg: Families can attend a sensory-friendly Dolphins in Action at 1:00 p.m. during Brookfield Zoo’s autism awareness event, “Zoos Go Blue,” on April 7.
DSC_1956.jpg: Brookfield Zoo’s iconic lion statues will be adorned with blue ribbons to commemorate Autism Awareness Month and the zoo’s participation in “Zoos Go Blue.”
DSC_2174.jpg: During Brookfield Zoo’s autism awareness event—“Zoos Go Blue”—on April 7, families can take a spin on The Carousel between 11:00 a.m. and noon when the music will be turned off for a “quiet hour.”
DSC_2338.jpg: Families can attend a sensory-friendly Dolphins in Action at 1:00 p.m. during Brookfield Zoo’s autism awareness event, “Zoos Go Blue,” on April 7.
 
Brookfield Zoo “Goes Blue” for Autism Awareness
Brookfield Zoo highlights accessibility and inclusion to provide positive zoo experience for all

 
            Brookfield, Ill. – Brookfield Zoo is once again partnering with Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, to take part in the annual Zoos Go Blue campaign on Saturday, April 7. The event takes place at Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ accredited institutions across North America during World Autism Awareness Month. To commemorate the day, the zoo’s iconic lion statues will be clothed in blue ribbons, blue flags will decorate the park’s grounds, and special inclusive activities and animal Zoo Chats will take place. Families also are encouraged to learn about the many access and inclusion features offered at Brookfield Zoo year-round.
“In our sixth year partnering with Autism Speaks for Zoos Go Blue, we are excited to again provide families with children on the autism spectrum the opportunity to enjoy the zoo in a fun and relaxed environment,” said Jennifer Baader, vice president of government affairs for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “While a variety of special activities will take place on April 7, Brookfield Zoo is committed to accessibility year-round, and we hope families will experience some of the new opportunities for children with disabilities that we’ve initiated in recent months.”
Throughout the day, families are encouraged to take advantage of the zoo’s new inclusion resource center and the sensory-friendly family room, both located in Hamill Family Play Zoo. The room offers a calm environment for children who may need a break from the excitement of the zoo, offering fidgets and other sensory-support materials, comfortable seating, blackout curtains, dimmable lights, and access to Wi-Fi. The newly renovated resource center provides useful information and tools to enhance a visit, including an accessibility guide, visual schedules, social stories, magazines, and noise-reducing headphones that are available to check out. Both are available to guests year-round. For Zoos Go Blue, the zoo has designated an additional quiet/break area in the Safari Riverside Room, which is located on the lower level of BZ Red Hots restaurant.
At 11:00 a.m., guests can head to the ITW White Oak Room for a special Zoo Chat to learn about a few of the animal ambassadors from the staff who care for them. Families can take a spin on The Carousel. From 11:00 a.m. to noon, the music will be turned off for a “quiet hour.” At 1:00 p.m., guests can attend a sensory-friendly Dolphins in Action presentation. A final Zoo Chat will take place at 2:00 p.m. in Hamill Family Play Zoo.
To help families prepare for their visit ahead of time, several adaptive tools can be downloaded from the zoo’s website at CZS.org/Accessibility. These tools include a visual schedule and stories about Brookfield Zoo’s various exhibits that, through illustrations and written descriptions, can help prepare a child for what he or she will see and may feel during their visit.
“Autism Speaks is proud to continue our partnership with the Chicago Zoological Society for our Zoos Go Blue campaign,” said Colleen Shinn, manager of community outreach-Midwest and South Central Regions. “We’re thrilled to continue this important initiative with Brookfield Zoo and are grateful for their acknowledgement of World Autism Awareness Month. Brookfield Zoo is committed to helping raise awareness, understanding, and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder, not only through their celebration of the autism community on this special day, but through the accommodations and renovations they’re making at the zoo year-round. Autism Speaks is especially proud to collaborate with other disability organizations through participation on the Zoo for All Advisory Board. We encourage Brookfield Zoo to continue to support the autism community and those with other disabilities every day to make every family’s trip to the zoo a positive and inclusive one.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 68 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum. Autism spectrum disorders, some of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the country, are caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences, and are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.
 
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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