San Diego Zoo Kids brings world of animals to MD Anderson pediatric cancer patients

Patients and families to experience educational and entertaining programming

The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital today debuted San Diego Zoo Kids, a new television channel for patients and families featuring real-life zoo animal experiences through closed-circuit television. The innovative programming now is available on TV monitors in every patient room, staff access areas and waiting areas at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital.

“At the Children’s Cancer Hospital, we are dedicated to providing our young patients with the world’s best cancer treatment, all while enhancing their care experience,” said Richard Gorlick, M.D., division head and chair of Pediatrics at MD Anderson. “We are thankful to the San Diego Zoo Kids channel for providing a wonderful educational opportunity and adding to our resources for our patients and families.”

Funded by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, San Diego Zoo Kids was launched mainly for hospitals and medical facilities treating pediatric patients. The animal-oriented programming is family-friendly, entertaining and educational. It offers up-close video encounters with animals, short videos about caring for animals and quizzes about animals and their habitats.

“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 also hopefully inspire a new generation to appreciate wildlife and their natural habitats,” said Douglas Myers, president and chief executive officer of San Diego Zoo Global. “We’ve 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, installed in 96 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in 27 states across the United States and in Mexico, Canada and Australia, partners with local zoos to film animals in their zoo habitats. San Diego Zoo Kids partnered with the Houston Zoo to film animal stories that are edited and uploaded to MD Anderson’s designated channel. 

“The Houston Zoo is honored to contribute to this important project,” said Lee Ehmke, president and chief executive officer of the Houston Zoo, located about a mile from MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. “The entire zoo team is excited to share charming and fascinating animal stories with our young neighbors and their families.”

A launch event at MD Anderson featured remarks by Gorlick, Ehmke and Debra Erickson, marketing director for San Diego Zoo Global. After the ceremony, patients, families and guests interacted with animals on-campus from the Houston Zoo.