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San Diego Zoo TV channel debuts at Children’s Hospital

Aug. 23, 2018, 9:12 AM

Pearl the opossum from the Nashville Zoo, being held by Jessica Knox, gets up close with patients from Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt during the announcement of the San Diego Zoo Kids TV launch. From left are, Harry Reinhard, Logan Hammons, Riley Arnold and Skylar Hammons. (photo by John Russell)

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt celebrated the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids with a launch celebration last week, making it the 150th facility to offer the closed-circuit television channel to patients.

San Diego Kids is an innovative television channel with programs produced primarily for medical facilities that serve pediatric patients and their families. The channel also features animal stories from Nashville Zoo, which has provided an outreach program at Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years.

San Diego Kids’ programming offers family-friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational.

“We know that when children and their families have to spend a lot of time in the hospital, that can be a scary or stressful time,” said Luke Gregory, Chief Executive Officer for Children’s Hospital. “Our goal is to help the child heal, but also to give them opportunities to smile, forget — even for a moment — that they are in the hospital and to just be a kid. The San Diego Zoo’s fun and exciting educational programming brings the zoo experience right into our patients’ rooms and into our clinics.

“We are proud to partner with the San Diego Zoo and to add to the existing adventures we currently enjoy with our own Nashville Zoo.”

Members of the Nashville Zoo — Tootsie, a New Guinea singing dog; Hoptimus Prime, a male Belgium hare; Pearl the opossum and Salsa, a Chilean rose-haired tarantula — made special appearances and mingled with patients and families.

“We are thrilled to partner with San Diego Zoo Kids to offer outstanding stories about animal care and conservation that these children can discover at any time throughout their stay,” said Rick Schwartz, president and chief executive officer of the Nashville Zoo.

The service is also making its debut at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville.

“We are proud to offer San Diego Zoo Kids TV for the families we serve to enjoy during their stay at Ronald McDonald House,” said Elizabeth Piercy, executive director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville. “This wildlife programming provides safe and educational entertainment that both children and their families can benefit from, making their stay in our home-away-from-home more positive during what can be a very difficult time.”

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.

The grant from IMLS made the channel available on TV monitors in every patient room at Children’s Hospital and common areas at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville.

The 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. Viewers can see best-of-videos from the San Diego Zoo’s famous Panda Cam and other online cameras, as well as content from other zoos across the world.

“We have reached a very important milestone for the channel,” said Debra Erickson, director of communications for San Diego Zoo Global. “Its healing properties are now available to millions of children in 34 states — as well as around the world — thanks to the support of Denny Sanford and the Institute of Museums and Library Services.

“Parents and caregivers share that the channel, which has no commercials or inappropriate content, helps distract children from the challenges of their hospitalization, provides them with a fun learning opportunity and makes them happy.”

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