New York, N.Y. (April 24, 2013) – Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are partnering to create the first “Zoos Go Blue,” a unique Autism Awareness Month event taking place at more than 30 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across North America on April 28.
Participating zoos and aquariums will support the day in different ways – some will offer free or discounted admission for people with autism while others will offer special educational programming for people with autism and their families or feature tables with information about autism.
Autism Speaks has created a family Tool Kit to help prepare families for their trip to the zoo or aquarium. Additionally, a tool kit prepared for the zoos and aquariums provides information and insights to create an autism-friendly environment, including tips for staff about communicating with visitors on the spectrum.
“A day at the zoo or aquarium is a wonderful outing for any family, but for individuals with autism and their families, it can be a challenge,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks vice president of family services. “Zoos Go Blue is a great opportunity for our families to enjoy a fun day designed with their needs in mind. We appreciate each and every zoo and aquarium that has committed to extending a special welcome on April 28.”
“AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums work hard to provide a great experience for everyone, and we are pleased to partner with Autism Speaks to make sure that people with autism can make the most of their zoo or aquarium visit,” said AZA President & CEO Jim Maddy. “Everyone can relate to animals. By offering unique opportunities and programming through the Zoos Go Blue initiative, these zoos and aquariums are helping to create meaningful experiences for families affected by autism.”
Zoos and aquariums participating on April 28, 2013 (unless otherwise indicated) are:
- Abilene Zoological Gardens (April 27)
- Aquarium of the Bay
- Audubon Nature Institute
- Bergen County Zoological Park
- Binder Park Zoo
- Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
- Central Park Zoo (Wildlife Conservation Society)
- Chicago Zoological Society – Brookfield Zoo
- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
- Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
- Dallas Zoo
- Detroit Zoological Society
- Dickerson Park Zoo
- Franklin Park Zoo
- Georgia Aquarium
- Kansas City Zoo (April 14)
- Lincoln Children's Zoo
- Minnesota Zoo
- Mystic Aquarium (April 6)
- Oakland Zoo
- Oregon Zoo
- Phoenix Zoo
- Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
- Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
- Roger Williams Park Zoo (May 5)
- Sacramento Zoo
- Seneca Park Zoo
- Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
- Utah's Hogle Zoo
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit www.aza.org.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.