San Diego, California - Young patients, their families and invited guests were treated to a visit with some amazing animal ambassadors—including a red-tailed hawk and a hedgehog from the North Carolina Zoo—at a gathering at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital (Aug. 24, 2018). This special event was held to announce the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids, a closed-circuit television channel, at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital, Jeff Gordon Children’s Center and Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.

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. A generous grant from Knights Angels Foundation has made the channel available on TV monitors at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital. 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 Jeff Gordon Children’s Center and Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.

San Diego Zoo Kids’ programming offers family friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational. “Every day, we commit to make our hospital a place of comfort and healing for our patients—that includes providing opportunities for our kids to be kids—and experience life that is more than tests and medical procedures,” said Callie Dobbins, facility executive, Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital and Jeff Gordon Children’s Center. “In collaboration with the San Diego Zoo, the virtual adventure that is now available to patients will bring smiles to their faces and help elevate their healing.”

The channel also features animal stories from the North Carolina Zoo and Carolina Raptor Center. We are honored to be included in this project of the San Diego Zoo and bring a bit of nature and wildlife inside to the hospital,” said Debbie Foster Fuchs, public relations for the North Carolina Zoo. “We hope the stories about our animals boost the spirits of the children and their parents and caregivers and bring a lightness to their day.”

“Birds have inspired humans for thousands of years,” said Executive Director of Carolina Raptor Center Jim Warren. “If our participation in the San Diego Kids Children’s Hospital network can inspire kids to heal, we are fulfilling our mission to the community by helping their spirits take flight.”

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

“We are excited and grateful for the generous donation of the San Diego Zoo Channel,” said Cameron Hunter, development and communications director, Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. “It is a wonderful way for our families to spend time together while they are away from home as their children are being treated in area medical facilities.”

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 Kids host Olivia Degn. 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 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 165 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in 34 states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia, and in facilities in Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Qatar and Curaçao.

About Atrium Health Levine Children’s and Jeff Gordon Children’s Center

Atrium Health Levine Children’s is a network of neighborhood pediatric offices, urgent cares, hospital programs and award-wining specialty care. And everything we do is backed by Levine Children’s Hospital, named a Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report in multiple specialties. When you're here, your child has access to all the best care, close to home.

About Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte:

The RMH of Charlotte opened in May 2011 and serves the families of children being treated at Levine Children’s Hospital and Hemby Children’s Hospital. Located on the 1600 block of East Morehead Street on land donated by Carolinas Medical Center, the House features approximately 35,000 square feet of living space complete with 28 bedrooms (one family per bedroom/suite), providing more than 10,000 nights for the families. It also has a community kitchen, great room, learning center, playground and sitting porch. The RMH of Charlotte is an independent 501 (c) (3) charity managed by a local board of directors which oversees operation of the home. RMH of Charlotte is funded and operated by the Charlotte community. The mission of the RMH of Charlotte is to provide the families of children being treated in area medical facilities with a safe, affordable and caring “home away from home.” For more information on RMH of Charlotte, visit

About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world’s largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature’s diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.

About Carolina Raptor Center

Carolina Raptor Center ignites imaginations and inspires engagement in the natural world through the exploration and rehabilitation of birds of prey. Today, the organization’s science education programs serve over 27,000 students a year in formal education settings. The ¾ mile Raptor Trail and Edna S. Moretti Environmental Education Center welcomes 40,000 visitors a year. The Jim Arthur Raptor Medical Center treats 900-1,000 birds/year making it the largest raptor treatment facility in the country.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums, and related organizations. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.

About IMLS Community Anchors Program
IMLS promotes the role of museums as essential partners in addressing the needs of their communities by leveraging their expertise, knowledge, physical space, technology and other resources to identify and implement solutions. By strengthening museums’ capacities for civic engagement, these projects contribute to the creation of livable, sustainable communities. IMLS welcomes applications for projects that empower museums to transform their roles in their communities from being community resources to being community catalysts. Museums have a role to play providing civic and cultural engagement, facilitating lifelong learning, promoting digital inclusion and supporting economic vitality through programming and services. IMLS encourages projects that demonstrate collaboration, adopt co-creating strategies and engage with a wide variety of cross-sector stakeholders to accomplish a sustained collective-impact goal.

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.