A most rewarding and moving program whereby children and adults everywhere, but especially individuals with visual impairment, are offered a unique opportunity to “see” wildlife through the sense of touch.
By utilizing thousands of donated and borrowed animal mounts, skins, skulls, and horns, tens of thousands of schoolchildren, adults and individuals who are visually impaired and disabled have been able to gain a “visual” perspective of what nature’s animals are like.
Sensory Safaris can be held year-round and can be located virtually anywhere. The first Sensory Safari took place in 1991, when Mr. Robert Easterbrook, Sr. provided both visually impaired and sighted children the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of wildlife through the sensation of touch. It has been growing ever since. SCI member volunteers now assist 60,000 to 70,000 participants per year through a network of full mounted displays, table displays, and mobile Sensory Safari trailers, describing the animal’s size, sounds, habitats and behaviors.
Whether touching the inside of an alligator’s long snout, feeling the serpentine neck of a giraffe, stroking the thick fur of a bear, or hearing the game calls of waterfowl and big game, the participants get to experience what even many sighted people have not.
In 2010, SCI chapters reported 154 Sensory Safaris and, with the help of volunteers, escorted many thousands of students, visually-impaired children, homeless children/adults, senior citizens and disabled individuals through displays owned by 46 of SCI’s North American Chapters, as well as the mobile Sensory Safari™ trailers owned by 22 U.S. chapters.
The program drew the attention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which asked SCIF to host a Sensory Safari at its annual convention. It was such a success that, in 1997, the NFB signed a memorandum of understanding with SCI to host Sensory Safari at their future conventions.
While most Sensory Safaris have been temporary exhibits, some schools for the blind, wildlife zoos, natural history museums, and libraries are now requesting and establishing permanent displays, such as those at the Natural History Museum of Las Vegas in Nevada; various schools for the blind in Washington, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Indiana, and Minnesota; the Lincoln Folsom Zoo in Lincoln, NE; the Children’s Science Center at the Brevard Museum in Brevard, FL; and the "Conservation Station" at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO.
Read about and see photos of recent Sensory Safaris under HS Projects. Click to see photos of the 4-day Sensory Safari at the 39th Annual Hunters' Convention in Reno, Nevada in 2011.
2011 Sensory Safari Schedule >>
SCI Record Book taxonomic information on game species through out the world
"Sensory Safari Provides Unique Opportunity to See Wildlife" by Rich White & Eva Wilson, Safari Magazine
Click to link to educational "Video Clips on Blindness Tips" on the website of the Washington State School for the Blind. The school, located in Vancouver, Washington, is the site of one of SCI's permanent Sensory Safari displays, built in conjuntion with our Northwest Chapter.