Tucson, Arizona - Young patients, their families and invited guests were treated to a visit with some amazing animal ambassadors—including a fennec fox, a ferret, a blue-tongued skink and a snake from Reid Park Zoo—at a gathering at Tucson Medical Center this morning (May 15, 2018.) This special event was held to announce the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids, a closed-circuit television channel, at Tucson Medical Center and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona.

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 across the nation over the next three years. The generous grant from IMLS has made the channel available on television monitors in every patient room at Tucson Medical Center and in the children’s play area at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona.

San Diego Zoo Kids’ programming offers family friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational. “Tucson Medical Center (TMC) is thrilled to partner with the San Diego Zoo to bring to our patients a little more of what’s magical and wonderful in the world at a time when they’re not feeling their best,” said Judy Rich, TMC’s president and CEO. From TMC’s long-standing support of Reid Park Zoo to its robust pet therapy program, Rich noted that the educational and entertaining channel builds on the work TMC is already doing. “This effort helps us in supporting families, offering a child-friendly environment and fostering an appreciation of the healing qualities of animals and nature.”

The channel also features animal stories from Reid Park Zoo. “We are excited to be collaborating with San Diego Zoo Global, Tucson Medical Center and Ronald McDonald House Charities to share our passion for animal conservation and education,” said Nancy Kluge, president, Reid Park Zoological Society. “We hope this glimpse into the lives of the animals at Reid Park Zoo will bring excitement and joy into the lives of those in our community who might not be able to visit the Zoo.”

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

Southern Arizona. "We are so pleased to partner with the San Diego Zoo, Tucson Medical Center and Reid Park Zoo on this entertaining and educational program,” said Kate Jensen, president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona. “One of our goals is to create a sense of normalcy for children and families, even while they are going through very difficult times. The San Diego Zoo Kids channel has become a very popular diversion. It is so well produced, educational and entertaining. We are grateful for this wonderful contribution from the San Diego Zoo.”

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 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 137 children's hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses, pediatric wards and children’s hospice centers across the U.S., in 33 states and the District of Columbia; and in facilities in Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan and Singapore.

About Tucson Medical Center

Tucson Medical Center, licensed at more than 600 beds, has been Tucson’s nonprofit community hospital for nearly 75 years. Governed by a board of community volunteers, TMC serves more than 31,500 inpatients and cares for nearly 100,000 patients each year in its Emergency Department. More than 1,000 physicians representing specialties from anesthesiology to vascular surgery practice at TMC. TMC offers top-notch intensive care units for adults, children and newborns, and is the leading provider in Southern Arizona for emergency care and pediatric care. Specialty areas include women’s, maternity, cardiac, orthopedic, neuroscience, imaging and senior services.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona offers a “home away from home” to families that travel to Tucson for their child’s medical care. The Ronald McDonald House offers comfortable private rooms, laundry facilities, play areas inside and outside, transportation to and from the medical facility and home-cooked meals—all at no cost to the family. Ronald McDonald House serves an average of 650 families a year, and they can stay as long as their child is being treated at a medical facility.

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 Reid Park Zoo

Reid Park Zoo is an AZA-accredited Zoo located in the heart of Tucson, Arizona’s Reid Park. Originally founded in 1965, Reid Park Zoo has grown to 24 acres of land, housing over 250 animals from around the world in naturalistic exhibits. With more than 500,000 visitors annually, Reid Park Zoo strives to encourage commitment to the conservation of biological diversity and to provide educational and fun experiences for visitors of all ages.

The Reid Park Zoological Society is a membership-driven, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is dedicated to supporting the city-owned Reid Park Zoo. Among recent accomplishments are: funding the construction of the state-of-the-art Animal Health Center; managing the construction of the alligator and red panda habitat; developing, funding and supporting the Zoo’s 10-year Master Plan; launching a dynamic marketing campaign for the Zoo; and funding the Zoo’s education support staff and apprentice program.

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.