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Sensory Friendly Morning gives kids the chance to experience ZooAmerica their way

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ZooAmerica at Hersheypark has all kinds of animals to appeal to all the senses - especially smell and sight.

But for children with sensory issues, it can be overwhelming.

That's why ZooAmerica is holding a special Sensory Day, and it's making a difference.

The nocturnal animal exhibit at Hersheypark's ZooAmerica alone is full of amazing sights and smells -- and trust me -- there is a strong "kitty litter" odor wafting throughout.

5-year old Brynnie and her parents are from Mercersberg and were enjoying ZooAmerica when we visited.

Brynnie is not a fan of the snakes, but the smell didn't seem to bother her.

However for children with sensory disorders, they can be overwhelming.

And that's why education specialist Theresa Wilson came up with the idea of a sensory friendly event at ZooAmerica.

Tomorrow morning, the zoo is opening an hour early and from 9 to 11 a.m., they'll have calming rooms and subdued lighting and sounds in some exhibits.

However in the nocturnal habitat, the lights will be turned up , not dimmed, so kids can see the animals.

"We're also going to have a sensory-friendly map that's going to have symbols and indicators where there might be certain smells, the nose for smell an ear for sound then some stars for where the calming rooms are available," said Wilson.

Theresa says the maps will also point out where the Hersheypark train will be so they can be prepared when the horn blows.

It's something many parents of typical kids may not think about. Just like Brynnie's mom and dad, they get to enjoy all that ZooAmerica has to offer -- like McBrown the box turtle.

So why hold a sensory friendly day at the zoo?

Besides having a personal connection, Theresa also sees how much children enjoy it just as much as she does, and that is the goal for every child.

Theresa clip 47 "It's very important to learn a little bit about different communities and be able to appreciate what they go through and be able to accommodate them so they have the best experience when they come to ZooAmerica," she says.

Sensory Friendly Morning at Hersheypark's ZooAmerica is Saturday, January 26 from nine to eleven.

They're opening an hour early so families will have the zoo to themselves for an hour before the public arrives.

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