San Diego Kids and CHKDVirginia Zoo Animals Become TV Stars at Hospital

July 2, 2019

Young patients, their families and invited guests were treated to a visit with some amazing animal ambassadors—including a Flemish giant rabbit, a hedgehog and a Harris’s hawkfrom the Virginia Zoo—at a gathering at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Friday, June 28. This special event announced the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids, a closed-circuit television adventure channel, at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Norfolk.

Image courtesy of CHKD

San Diego Zoo Kids is an innovative television channel with programs produced primarily for medical facilities that serve pediatric patients and their families. The creation and development of the 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 TV monitors at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Norfolk.

San Diego Zoo Kids’ programming offers family friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational.“We know that children in the hospital benefit tremendously when they turn their attention from their injury or illness and focus instead on something that engages the mind and stimulates the imagination,” said Jim Dahling, CEO and president of Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. “This adventure with the San Diego Zoo provides exactly that opportunity to virtually transport them outside of their hospital experience. We are grateful to the San Diego Zoo for collaborating with our own Virginia Zoo and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Norfolk on this project.”

Image courtesy of CHKD

The channel features the Virginia Zoo. “The Virginia Zoo is thrilled to partner with San Diego Zoo Global and the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters to deliver heartwarming and educational animal stories to children who are unable to visit the Zoo,” said Greg Bockheim, executive director of the Virginia Zoo. “Sharing these special stories with children, their families and caregivers while they are in the hospital furthers to strengthen the bonds between humans and our animal friends, lifting our spirits and affection for all living things.”

The service is also making its debut at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Norfolk. “When you have a sick child, trying to maintain a sense of normalcy is important to families,” said Elyse Brown, executive director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Norfolk.“Having access to the San Diego Zoo channel provides a fun, entertaining and educational option for families to sit and unwind after a hard day at the hospital. We appreciate the partnership!”

Image courtesy of CHKD

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’s Elephant Cam and other online cameras, as well as content from other zoos across 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.”

Image courtesy of CHKD

San Diego Zoo Kids debuted in 2013 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Since then, it has been installed in 248 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in 42 states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia, and in facilities in Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Pakistan, Qatar, Curaçao and South Africa.