SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah Hogle Zoo will be celebrating neurodiversity with its first “Silent Night” ZooLights and Neurodiversity Celebration Day on Tuesday, Dec. 27, in partnership with the Utah Parent Center.
The first offering of its Neurodiversity Celebration Day will celebrate neurodiverse individuals who are sensitive to high noise levels, visuals, and smells throughout the day and at night by presenting a softened version of its annual ZooLights tradition.
The magical yearly holiday event typically features an array of light displays of animals with holiday themes. This year, ZooLights has a 135-foot kaleidoscopic light tunnel and a 20-foot tree. Some of these lights pulse, strobe, and flash along with music to provide a dazzling display that could be too much for neurodivergent individuals.
On “Silent Night,” the flashing and strobing effects will either be turned off or reduced. Music volumes and sound effects will be turned down and the zoo will become sensory-friendly for those with neurodiversity needs to be able to experience the event in their own way.
“There are a lot of neurodiverse people who love animals and the zoon. They enjoy that they can interact with wildlife, keepers, and their families of all generations,” said Utah Parent Center Executive Direct Joey Hanna. “This day and Silent Night are for anyone who wishes to learn about and celebrate our unique ways of experiencing animals and a holiday lighting event.”
Along with the reduced lights and music, the Zoo will also offer sensory-friendly activities and demonstrations throughout the zoo, keeper interaction and animal training, guided information on what to expect and what to avoid, a quiet room, and free sensory backpacks and kits for checkout.
Neurodiversity Celebration Day will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is included with the Wild Weekdays online $5 deal. Silent Night begins at 5:30 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m. Ticket information can be found on Utah’s Hogle Zoo’s website.