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Belfast to host `Quiet Hour' to give visitors on the autism spectrum, their family and friends the chance to enjoy the attraction.

Alyn Cairns, Zoo manager and Brian the lion are looking forward to welcoming visitors to 'quiet hour' at Belfast Zoo
Marie Louise McConville

BELFAST Zoo is preparing to host a special `quiet hour' to give visitors on the autism spectrum, their family and friends the chance to enjoy the attraction.

On Sunday July 9, the zoo will open an hour early, at 9am, to give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the peace and quiet for an hour before it opens to the public.

Alyn Cairns, zoo manager, said the new quiet hour would "allow families to explore the sights and sounds of the zoo in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, without the typical noise and crowds that can be challenging for children and adults with sensory needs".

"The zoo is not only a vital educational resource for children but it is also a fun day out with the opportunity to create memories as a family, that will last a lifetime. We are delighted to be playing an active role in making inclusivity the norm in Northern Ireland and to make the zoo a welcoming day out for everyone."

He added: "We realise that there is a huge demand for family-focused attractions to create a supportive and enjoyable experience for visitors with sensory needs.

"In order to keep quiet hour quiet there will be a limited number of 150 tickets available. However, we hope that the success of this event will lead to many more quiet hours in the future."

Belfast Zoo has also developed a sensory guide to help visitors on the autism spectrum to plan their visit to the zoo. This is available to download from www.belfastzoo.co.uk Tickets for the event must be pre-booked.

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