Denver Zoo Becomes First Zoo in Colorado to Become Autism Certified

Denver Zoo in Colorado is celebrating earning the Certified Autism Center™ designation, making it the first zoo in Colorado to achieve this status. This designation is granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that complete training and certification to better understand and welcome autistic or sensory-sensitive visitors and their families. IBCCES also conducted an onsite review to provide additional ways the Zoo can accommodate visitors and create detailed sensory guides for each exhibit as part of the certification process.

“Fulfilling our mission—Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations—relies our ability to welcome and better serve guests on the autism spectrum and those with other sensory sensitives,” said Amber Christopher, Chief Operating Officer at Denver Zoo. “We’re beyond proud to be designated as a Certified Autism Center™ and look forward to continuing our partnership and progress with the IBCCES.”

Denver Zoo

Many autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals may find it challenging to visit new places or plan family trips due to a lack of staff training and understanding, the potential for sensory overload, and the need for flexible options or accommodations. In response to this need, IBCCES developed training and certification programs specifically for theme parks, hotels, zoos, aquariums, and other attractions to ensure all families and individuals can have fun and create memories.

Speaking about the accolade, IBCCES board chairman Myron Pincomb said: “We believe that training and certification are essential so that industry leaders can tailor their services to all guests. Our programs allow attractions to go beyond expectations and truly deliver the best possible experience to all individuals and families. We are thrilled that Denver Zoo has shown their dedication to serving all their guests to their best ability by becoming autism certified”.

denver zoo

In additional to training and certification the Zoo offers guests with sensory needs and considerations, the resources to prepare for their visit to Denver Zoo. Guests can also use these resources during their visit to create the best experience for themselves or their families. Sensory Kits are available to checkout at the Zoo’s Concierge booth and are free to checkout and contain helpful tools you can use to create a sensory-friendly visit. Each kit includes ear defenders, sunglasses and fidget tools. Weighted lap blankets are also available to check out upon request. Quiet spaces are also available throughout the Zoo, including the Wellness Room located near the restrooms in Primate Panorama as well as generally quieter spaces at the Zoo such as: Woodland Garden, Giraffe Barn (if there are no other visitors), Nurture Trail, Duck Lake bench viewing area, Congo Basin, Zoo Gardens outside of peak hours.

Each year, the Zoo offers a Low-Sensory Zoo Lights Night to bring the magic of Zoo Lights to guests with sensory sensitivities. Accommodations for this event include reduced crowds, no strobing effects, music is played at lowered volumes, quiet rooms and modified attractions experiences:

For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals worldwide. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based training as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews and customized recommendations, and renewal requirements to ensure the program is a long-term commitment that has a lasting impact.

IBCCES also created, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.

About Denver Zoo

Home to almost 3,000 animals representing more than 450 species, Denver Zoo is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and the city’s oldest and most passionate advocate for the natural world. The Zoo is among the most visited cultural destination in Colorado, serving almost 2 million people per year, and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care. With the mission inspiring communities to save wildlife for future generations, Denver Zoo dedicates almost $2 million annually to Zoo-led programs aimed at protecting animals within their natural habitats around the world. For more information, visit


Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.

Learn More About Becoming A Certified Autism Center™

Fill out the form below to learn more about our CAC Program, which includes staff certifications, training options and center certification.

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