Young patients, their families and invited guests were treated to a visit with some amazing animal ambassadors from the Tennessee Aquarium and Chattanooga Zoo—including a flying squirrel, blue-tongued skink and a giant gecko—at a gathering at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger Kennedy Outpatient Center earlier today (April 11, 2019). This special event was held to announce the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids, a closed-circuit television adventure channel produced primarily for medical facilities that serve pediatric patients and their families.
The creation and development of the San Diego Zoo Kids channel has been funded by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford. In 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded San Diego Zoo Global an outstanding Museums for America grant to bring San Diego Zoo Kids to 75 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald House Charities facilities across the nation over the next three years. The generous grant from IMLS has made the channel available on television monitors at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger.
San Diego Zoo Kids’ programming offers family friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational. “We are so excited to partner with our Chattanooga Zoo and the Tennessee Aquarium, as well as the San Diego Zoo, to provide a unique form of entertainment and distraction for our pediatric patients,” said Don Mueller, Vice President and CEO of Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “Not only is this new channel available to our hospitalized patients and patients visiting their physician at the Kennedy Outpatient Center, it also airs in patient rooms at Erlanger Baroness Hospital and even in our Cancer Infusion Center. Patients of all ages will now be able to view and learn about animal habitats through the eyes of zoo and aquarium visitors from around the nation.”
The service is also making its debut at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Chattanooga. “We are thrilled to join so many of our RMHC colleagues and Children’s Hospitals to offer the San Diego Zoo Channel to the families who need our services both at the House and in our Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Children’s Hospital at Erlanger,” said Jane L. Kaylor, President and CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Chattanooga. “Everything extra special we can do for sick children, their siblings, and their family helps to relieve the anxiety families feel when they have a sick child. We are grateful to partner with the San Diego Zoo, the Chattanooga Zoo, the Tennessee Aquarium and Children’s Hospital and thankful for the generosity that has made this possible.”
The channel also features animal stories from the Tennessee Aquarium and Chattanooga Zoo. “This partnership will have such a meaningful impact on children and families in our area,” said Thom Benson, the Tennessee Aquarium’s director of external affairs. “San Diego Zoo Kids TV makes each child’s hospital stay a little less stressful, helps speed recovery, and gives families an opportunity share some light moments together while learning about animals.”
The San Diego Zoo Kids channel offers up-close video encounters with animals, stories about caring for animals, quizzes about animals and habitats, and a wide variety of short video vignettes hosted by San Diego Zoo Global ambassador Rick Schwartz and San Diego Zoo Kids hosts Olivia Degn and Michelle Myers. Viewers can see best-of videos from the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, as well as content from other zoos around the world.
“We continue to be humbled by the healing properties of San Diego Zoo Kids,” said Debra Erickson, director of communications, San Diego Zoo Global. “Parents and caregivers share that the channel, which has no commercials or inappropriate content, not only calms children but makes them happy.”
San Diego Zoo Kids debuted in 2013 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Since then, it has been installed in 222 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in 39 states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia, and in facilities in Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Pakistan, Qatar, and Curaçao.