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Paignton Zoos new Changing Places facility will change lives

People with a range of disability and accessibility needs have started the new decade on a happy note thanks to Paignton Zoo. The conservation charity has joined forces with the National Lottery and accessibility experts Closomat to provide a new Changing Places toilet.

Changing Places toilets have more room and more equipment than standard accessible toilets. The zoo’s new facility is attached to the main Island restaurant overlooking the lake. Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “We aim to give all our guests the best day out we can and that means accessible facilities. Currently there are fewer than 2,000 Changing Places toilets in the whole of the UK – there are more public lavatories just in Wembley Stadium than there are Changing Places toilets in this country.”

The new toilet includes an adjustable sink, an adult-sized changing bench, ceiling track hoist and privacy screen alongside the conventional equipment found in a wheelchair-accessible WC. The facility can be accessed with personal RADAR key, and there is also a key available to borrow from the Island Restaurant.

Paignton Zoo is part of Wild Planet Trust, which also runs Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall. Facilities Manager Adi Board said: “The Trust’s first fully-accessible toilet was installed at Newquay Zoo at the start of last year. We decided to work with Closomat again because of the great job they did there.”

The work was funded in part by an Awards for All grant from the National Lottery Community Fund. Wild Planet Trust Grants Officer Carly Hobson said: “Thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund, we’ve been able to install this fantastic facility. It will give more people better access to Paignton Zoo. A Changing Places toilet on site gives more guests the peace of mind they need to fully enjoy a fun day at the zoo and be inspired by our conservation work.”

Paignton Zoo has five further standard accessible WCs for guests and two in staff areas. Paignton Zoo is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.

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