KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Zoo is close to opening a new nature play area for kids who have special needs.
This new exploration play area is under construction in the Africa exhibit near the safari landing stage .
When it's complete, approximately the beginning of May, it will be the first of its kind at any zoo in the country.
It's designed to allow kids of all abilities to play alongside one another.
The surface will also be solid to accommodate power wheelchairs and walkers. There will be a low-sensory quiet-zone area, and also a zip line with a companion harness so a partner can accompany a child with special needs.
Variety KC partnered with the Kansas City Zoo to help make this vision a reality, and parents say this new park is a total game-changer.
“The Kansas City Zoo will be the first to have a Variety KC exploration play area," said Deborah Wiebrecht with Variety Children’s Charity. "The first in the nation. They are forward thinking. Our community is including all kids, able-bodied kids and kids with special needs. The first in the country to do this project.”
“The zoo is a very large place and it can be very physically taxing for people with mobility issues," parent Cathleen Flournoy said. "The fact that the zoo is including these children through different mechanisms from an inclusive playground to a quiet zone so children can rest as they do fatigue and get some energy back, it’s a blessing to our family.”