Zoos Bring Animal Kingdom to Patients at Children’s Hospitals

Young patients, their families and invited guests were treated to a visit with animals from ZooMontana earlier today (Sept. 16 2016), at a gathering at St. Vincent Children’s Healthcare. The special event served to announce a groundbreaking collaboration of the San Diego Zoo, ZooMontana, St. Vincent Children’s Healthcare and Ronald McDonald Charities of Eastern Montana, with the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids.

Funded through a generous gift by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, San Diego Zoo Kids is an innovative closed-circuit television broadcast channel that provides family friendly, animal-oriented programming that is both entertaining and educational. The channel is available on TV monitors in every patient room at St. Vincent Children’s Healthcare and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Montana.

“Launching the Zoo Channel is the mark of a great partnership between ZooMontana, San Diego Zoo, Ronald McDonald House, and St. Vincent Healthcare. The healing power of animals will certainly be felt by our patients and we are so proud to now offer this entertaining and educational program,” said St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation President & CEO, Dennis Sulser. “We’re also very grateful for the support of The Children’s Clinic of Billings and 2M Company for sponsoring this innovative program of delivering the zoo to patients.”

The service is also making its debut at the Ronald McDonald Charities of Eastern Montana. “What an exciting opportunity for our families at the Ronald McDonald House,” said Connie Grammens, Ronald McDonald Charities of Eastern Montana. “Both the patients and their siblings will enjoy this quality programming and, at least for a little while, will get to focus on just being kids.”

San Diego Zoo Kids offers up-close video encounters with animals, including a wide variety of short video vignettes hosted by San Diego Zoo Global ambassador Rick Schwartz. Viewers can observe the San Diego Zoo’s famous Panda Cam and other online cameras, as well as content from zoos across the country.

“San Diego Zoo Kids has the ability to bring the zoo to young patients who don’t have the opportunity to visit,” said Douglas G. Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “The stories we tell through this channel not only entertain children and their families during what can be a stressful time, but hopefully inspire a new generation to appreciate wildlife and their natural habitats.”

The channel also will feature animal stories from ZooMontana. “ZooMontana is excited to partner with San Diego Global as a means to engage children who are unable to visit our Zoo,” said Jeff Ewelt, executive director of ZooMontana. “True to our commitment to the community, this partnership made sense, and we have no doubt that the Zoo channel will bring countless smiles to the children that need them most.”

San Diego Zoo Kids debuted in 2013 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Since then, it has been installed in 74 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in 23 states across the United States, and in three countries.