Lincoln Park Zoo creates free pilot program for people living with dementia

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, September 11, 2023
Lincoln Park Zoo creates pilot program for people living with dementia
The program joins a roster of Lincoln Park Zoo events aimed at making it inclusive for all guests.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Lincoln Park Zoo has created a free pilot program for people living with dementia.

The monthly event joins a roster of accessibility programs aimed at making the zoo inclusive for all guests.

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The zoo said its new pilot program fosters a safe and welcoming space for guests to connect with wildlife and build community through socialization. It will be set each month in a private space on zoo grounds with views of the animals.

"We know through research, that when people living with dementia are able to mindfully connect with nature, it improves their disposition and provides crucial mental stimulation," said Hart Prins Accessibility and Inclusion Manager Bill Green. "We have the unique opportunity at Lincoln Park Zoo to provide that connection for people living with dementia and their care networks, and give attendees unique opportunities to learn about the plants and animals on site, all in an inclusive environment."

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The memory enrichment program, which takes place on the third Friday of every month, is facilitated by trained staff and mirrors common practices found in memory cafes in dementia-friendly cities. It is a first-of-its-kind program at a zoo or aquarium, according to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The program melds community building with education opportunities, multi-sensory experiences, and low-impact physical activity.

Attendees will have opportunities to share their experiences with each other, while also participating in engaging lessons on animals, plants, zoo history, and more.

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The program is the latest offering from Lincoln Park Zoo that it says fosters accessibility and creates a welcoming space for guests of all abilities and backgrounds.

Visitors can also enjoy the quarterly sensory-friendly zoo lights program.

This special event invites guests with sensory processing disabilities, neurodiversity, and other disabilities to experience the zoo with reduced environmental stimulations and reduced crowd sizes.

Visitors can learn more at or by emailing