ST. LOUIS — Demolition and preparation of the old mall at Union Station is almost complete and construction will soon begin on the $45-million aquarium.
In April, zoOceanarium Group, the operator of the aquarium, said they would be partnering with KultureCity to provide an inclusive experience. This week, zoOceanarium announced some of the features that will enhance the experience for visitors with sensory challenges.
“Prior to opening, all of our staff will participate in training to recognize how our visitors may experience the facility. Upon opening our visitors will be provided with additional resources, a quiet room, sensory kits that allow them to experience it a little easier, and then the training also allows us to help facilitate any support those visitors may need during their visit,” said Erin Clark, Director of Animal Projects.
The facility will also feature a number of touch tanks to provide an immersive experience and give visitors of all ages and abilities the opportunity to get up close and learn about the animals.
zoOceanarium Group partnered with KultureCity, an organization specializing in sensory inclusion awareness and creating acceptance of individuals with unique abilities. The new collaboration and its certification training for staff will result in improved experiences for all guests visiting numerous zoos, aquariums and science centers that they manage.
“There's a growing number of the population that suffers from sensory processing disorders. That includes children on the autism spectrum, people that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and it can even affect people with Alzheimer’s,” Clark said. “Aquariums and zoological facilities can be high energy experiences for a lot of people.”
The aquarium is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2019 and is part of a massive redesign project at Union Station.