Cosley Zoo’s main building once

Cosley Zoo’s Douglas Depot once served as Wheaton’s first train station in the mid-1800s.

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion at Cosley Zoo

Cosley Zoo’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Team strives to promote our mission of “welcoming all communities and celebrating diverse peoples without exception to inspire connections with the natural world” to further the mission of Cosley Zoo.

Cosley Zoo maintains a growth mind set, believing that we are always able to learn and that as we learn, we can become better. Whereas Cosley Zoo has always recognized the importance of genetic diversity, ecological diversity, and biodiversity, we recognize the many opportunities that are available for us to become even more inclusive and accessible to people of all races, cultures, backgrounds, abilities, beliefs, and economic status. We work to be deliberately inclusive with the goal of making sure people have equitable access to Cosley Zoo. Furthermore, we work to increase our internal staff diversity and knowledge of these subjects, so all guests visiting the zoo feel represented and welcomed. The diversification of staff and their increased knowledge and understanding of why diversity, equity, and inclusion is important, improves our ability to engage with communities and guests in meaningful ways.

Cosley Zoo is Certified Sensory Inclusive

KultureCity logo KultureCity has partnered with Cosley Zoo to make the zoo and many of its programs and events sensory inclusive. This initiative promotes an accommodating and positive experience for all guests with sensory sensitivities that visit the zoo.

As part of the certification process, the staff at Cosley Zoo have been trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Weighted lap pads and sensory bags equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools and verbal cue cards are available to guests who may feel overwhelmed by the zoo environment.

Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise, both of which can be an enormous part of the zoo atmosphere. With this certification, Cosley Zoo is better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible.

Prior to visiting the zoo, families can download the free KultureCity app where they can learn about the sensory features which are available at the zoo and where they can access them. Also on the app is Cosley Zoo’s Social Story, which provides a preview of what to expect while visiting the zoo.

The KultureCity app can be downloaded here: or


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