San Diego, California - Young patients, their families and invited guests were treated to a visit with some amazing animal ambassadors—including a bateleur eagle, a chinchilla and giant Flemish rabbits from the Saint Louis Zoo at a gathering at Mercy Children’s Hospital. This special event served to announce the arrival of a closed-circuit television adventure channel, San Diego Zoo Kids, at Mercy Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis.

San Diego Zoo Kids is an innovative television channel with programs produced exclusively 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. A generous gift from The Tilles Foundation has made the channel available on television monitors in every patient room, as well as in waiting areas at Mercy Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis.

San Diego Zoo Kids’ programming offers family friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational. “Having this channel available will be great educational entertainment as well as a good distraction for our patients during an often difficult time,” said Dr. Joseph Kahn, president of Mercy Kids. “We’re excited to collaborate with three terrific organizations to offer this resource.”

The channel also features animal stories from the Saint Louis Zoo. “We are so pleased to be a part of this partnership,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. “Connecting people with animals and nature is what we are all about; we hope this programming can bring smiles to the faces of the children who are dealing with health challenges.”

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

St. Louis. “We are excited about this new partnership and look forward to offering this service to our families,” says Dan Harbaugh, President of RMHC St. Louis. “This wildlife programming will make our Houses an even more comfortable and enjoyable environment for the children and families we serve.”

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 host Oliva Degn. Viewers can see video from the San Diego Zoo’s famous Panda Cam and other online cameras, as well as content from other zoos across the country.

 “The stories we tell on the San Diego Zoo Kids 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,” said Douglas G. Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “We have heard from several doctors, nurses, and families that providing these animal stories has been a resource of calm and comfort for their young patients.”

San Diego Zoo Kids debuted in 2013 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Since then, it has been installed in 110 children's hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in 28 states across the U.S., and the District of Columbia, and in facilities in Mexico, Canada, Australia and Pakistan. 

About Mercy Children’s Hospital

Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis is a full service children’s hospital within Mercy Hospital St. Louis. It’s part of the Mercy Kids network of pediatric care dedicated to meeting the needs of every child, every day. Mercy Kids is powered by more than 700 pediatricians and family doctors in partnership with 125 pediatric specialists. Anchored by two acute care pediatric hospitals in St. Louis and Springfield, Mo., Mercy Kids offers a full range of services to support healthy childhoods, including pediatric, specialty and educational services.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis is to provide comfort, care and a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill children. Our objective is to enable families to practice family-centered care by providing them with all of the basic comforts of home. RMHC St. Louis operates three St. Louis-area Ronald McDonald Houses and eight long-term apartments, which collectively serve 59 out-of-town families each night and nearly 2,000 families annually. Our three in-hospital Family Rooms located inside St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Mercy Children’s Hospital and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital serve more than 12,000 local and out-of-town families each year.

About the Saint Louis Zoo

Chosen as America’s top free attraction and best zoo in USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Zoo attracts more than 3,000,000 visitors a year.

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.