San Diego Zoo Brings the Animal Kingdom to Patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas

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Animals and young patients were brought together today at Arkansas Children’s Hospital to unveil a groundbreaking collaboration designed to entertain and educate patients and their families about wildlife. Funded through a generous gift by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, San Diego Zoo Global, Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH), Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas, and the Little Rock Zoo announced the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids — an innovative closed-circuit television broadcast channel that features entertaining and educational programming about unique and endangered animal species. The channel is available on TV monitors in every patient room, as well as in hospital waiting areas.

“At ACH, we’re fans of any initiative that brings huge smiles to children,” said David Berry, senior vice president & COO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “The animal stories our patients are watching through San Diego Zoo Global take their minds off stressful situations, and remind them of the incredible world waiting for them outside when they’re healed and leave our hospital.”

Penguin ambassador from the Little Rock Zoo enchants young patients during the launch of San Diego Zoo Kids -- an innovative closed-circuit television broadcast channel that features entertaining and educational programming about unique and endangered animal species.

Penguin ambassador from the Little Rock Zoo enchants young patients during the launch of San Diego Zoo Kids — an innovative closed-circuit television broadcast channel that features entertaining and educational programming about unique and endangered animal species.

San Diego Zoo Kids offers up-close video encounters with popular animals, all hosted by San Diego Zoo’s national spokesperson, Rick Schwartz and San Diego Kids host, Lauren Ayers. Viewers can observe the Zoo’s famous Panda Cam, other online cameras, as well as content from zoos across the country.

“We have heard from medical professionals that animal interaction and animal stories can help promote well-being,” said Doug Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “San Diego Zoo Global has a wealth of animal stories, and through the generosity of T. Denny Sanford; we are able to bring these stories to families at hospitals around the country.”

The channel will also feature animal stories from the Little Rock Zoo — which brought a few of their animals to the today’s launch to meet patients and their families.

“Animals capture our interests, touch our souls, and remind us of our own humanity,” said Mike Blakely, Little Rock Zoo Director. “In addition, nature has the power to soothe, inspire and restore.  The more of the natural environment we can give to our children, and to those around us, the more we can hope for renewed health and change.”

The service is also making its debut at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas in Little Rock.

“What an exciting opportunity for our families at the Ronald McDonald House,” said Katie Kirkpatrick Choate, Executive Director.  “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 debuted in 2013 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Since then, it has been installed at 13 other children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald House centers across the country.

About ACH
Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas, and it is one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. Over the past century, ACH has grown to span 29 city blocks and house 370 beds, with a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties, and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit health-care facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research — all dedicated to fulfilling its mission of championing children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow. For more info, visit archildrens.org.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas
Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Arkansas enhances the lives of children and their families by creating and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. These programs include: the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. The Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families with an ill or injured child being treated at local hospitals. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is a 40-foot, state-of-the-art mobile unit that provides free dental care and education to underserved children in their own neighborhoods. To learn more about RMHCA and its work, visit rmhclittlerock.org.

About the Little Rock Zoo
The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and provides engaging experiences that inspire people to value and conserve our natural world. Founded in 1926 with an abandoned timber wolf and circus trained bear, the Zoo now features 700 animals representing more than 200 different species. The Zoo is noted for its breeding programs for the maned wolf, sloth bear, Malayan tiger, western lowland gorilla, chimpanzee, and others. It is also noted for its historical Workers Progress Administration (WPA) buildings that can still be seen throughout the Zoo as well as the renovated Over-the-Jumps antique carousel. The Zoo is located in the heart of central Arkansas at War Memorial Park and is one of Arkansas’s leading family attractions and tourist destinations. For more information on the Little Rock Zoo, visit LittleRockZoo.com, or search Little Rock Zoo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

About San Diego Zoo Global
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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