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How the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Promotes Accessibility and Inclusivity

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) which now embraces the importance of human diversity and understands that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of providing equity and inclusivity. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo emphasizes the AZA's 5th promise which reads, "We will advance diversity, equity, access, and inclusion practices in the profession and integrate these values into our organizational cultures". Their current goal is to create a safe space where everyone feels welcome and diversity is celebrated.

As a way to promote inclusivity, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo partnered with Pal Experiences, a Phoenix-based non-profit, to become the first Zoo in the U.S. to have a "Pal Place". This has allowed the zoo to create accessible tools so that those with autism or other developmental disabilities can have a memorable visit. With this partnership, the Zoo has created videos that show guests what they can expect when they step foot in the zoo and they have also provided an interactive online guide to help them access the various attractions designed to accommodate the guest based on their needs.

Another step that the Fresno Chaffee Zoo has taken to promote inclusivity is what's called, George's Pass. In collaboration with Valley Children's Healthcare, the Zoo has been able to bring in tools that make the Zoo inclusive and accessible for all guests. For example, guests can obtain a George's Pass sticker at the front entrance which helps the staff make sure the guest have an enjoyable visit. Guests may also check out a special backpack at the front entrance that includes noise-canceling headphones, a map that demonstrates the quiet zones and headphone zones, and sensory tools that will create a pleasant experience. To get these accommodations, an ID will need to be left at the front entrance.

Given that April 2nd is the start of World Autism Month, this would be a great opportunity for parents to take their children to the Zoo and have a great time exploring the different attractions that the Fresno Chaffee Zoo provides for all its guests.

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