RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

Guide Dogs UK launches new partnership with Edinburgh Zoo

Posted: 20th April, 2022

Guide Dogs and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo are delighted to announce a new pilot project, aimed at improving the customer experience for visitors who live with a vision impairment.  

Throughout March and April, 36 members of staff from the wildlife conservation charity have received expert training and advice from Guide Dogs’ My Sighted Guide service, with 100 volunteers also set to benefit in the coming months. 

Guide Dogs is currently piloting a new partner model, in which the charity will work with organisations across the UK to improve accessibility and provide a safe environment for people with sight loss. 

Edinburgh Zoo was the first to pilot this new collaborative approach with Guide Dogs. With front of house and visitor experience staff learning how to guide blind and partially-sighted customers, it will make the experience much more accessible to many of the 600,000+ visitors the zoo attracts each year. 

Erika Oulton, Senior Animal Keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, was one of the participants at the training and said: “We want everyone to be able to connect with nature at Edinburgh Zoo, so accessibility is incredibly important to our charity.  

“The training has provided our teams with excellent knowledge and information to give visitors with sight loss the best experience possible, helping them to learn about the amazing animals in our care and discover how they can help protect wildlife around the world.” 

Heather Valentine, My Sighted Guide Community Development Officer at Guide Dogs, said: “We are proud to partner with Edinburgh Zoo to provide training for their staff on sight loss awareness and sighted guiding. It has been brilliant working with staff from different departments who are all very devoted to making the zoo more inclusive to visitors with sight loss.” 

Any organisations or venues interested in making their facilities more inclusive through staff training can get in touch with Guide Dogs by contacting Lorraine Brinnen, My Sighted Guide Partnership Development Specialist at [email protected] 

Related Members