San Diego, California - Young patients, their families and invited guests were treated to a visit with some amazing animal ambassadors—including a Palawan binturong, a banded palm civet, a New Guinea singing dog, and a Virginia opossum from the Nashville Zoo—at a gathering at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt this morning (Aug. 17, 2018). This special event was held to announce the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids, a closed-circuit television channel, at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville.

Celebrating its 150th facility milestone at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, 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 facilities across the nation over the next three years. The generous grant from IMLS has made the channel available on TV monitors in every patient room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and common areas at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville.

San Diego Zoo Kids’ programming offers family friendly, animal-oriented stories that are both entertaining and educational. “We know that when children and their families have to spend a lot of time in the hospital, that can be a scary or stressful time,” said Luke Gregory, chief executive officer for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “Our goal is to help the child heal, but also to give them opportunities to smile, forget—even for a moment—that they are in the hospital and to just be a kid. The San Diego Zoo’s fun and exciting educational programming brings the zoo experience right into our patients’ rooms and into our clinics. We are proud to partner with the San Diego Zoo and to add to the existing adventures we currently enjoy with our own Nashville Zoo.”

The channel also features animal stories from Nashville Zoo. “Nashville Zoo's outreach program has been visiting children at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for more than 20 years,” said Rick Schwartz, president and chief executive officer, Nashville Zoo. “We are thrilled to partner with San Diego Zoo Kids to offer outstanding stories about animal care and conservation that these children can discover at any time throughout their stay.”

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

Nashville. “We are proud to offer San Diego Zoo Kids TV for the families we serve to enjoy during their stay at our Ronald McDonald House,” said Elizabeth Piercy, executive director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville. “This wildlife programming provides safe and educational entertainment that both children and their families can benefit from, making their stay in our home-away-from-home more positive during what can be a very difficult time.”

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 have reached a very important milestone for the channel,” said Debra Erickson, director of communications, San Diego Zoo Global. “Its healing properties are now available to millions of children in 34 states—as well as around the world—thanks to the support of Denny Sanford and the Institute of Museums and Library Services. Parents and caregivers share that the channel, which has no commercials or inappropriate content, helps distract children from the challenges of their hospitalization, provides them with a fun learning opportunity and 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 163 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 Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt is one of the nation's leading children's hospitals, treating and helping to prevent a full range of pediatric health issues from colds and broken bones to complex heart diseases and cancer. The Department of Pediatrics within the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is currently ranked fourth in the nation in the total receipt of research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Children’s Hospital’s physicians are nationally recognized innovators in their fields who are discovering new ways to cure and prevent a host of childhood diseases. Their work is preventing and finding new treatments for diseases such as premature birth, cancer, heart disease, spina bifida, trauma and many other conditions, and is an investment in the future. Achieving 10 out of 10 nationally ranked pediatric specialties in 2018, Children’s Hospital was again named among the nation’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” for the 12th consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt opened in 2004, expanded its physical space in 2012 and is currently adding four new floors and 160,000 total sq. ft. The new expansion will help advance the size and scope of the hospital's mission.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville is to keep families close by providing essential resources and a home-away-from-home for families of critically ill children receiving inpatient or outpatient medical care at Nashville area hospitals. Programs run by Ronald McDonald House Charities, the 32-bedroom Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room, offer a place for parents and family members to relax, refresh and experience the comforts of home while staying close to their sick child.

The Ronald McDonald House, open since July 1991, has provided hot meals, laundry facilities and a place to rest for more than 15,000 families from across the country and around the world. It has all the benefits of a house, such as a playroom, library, laundry room and two kitchens. More importantly, the Ronald McDonald House provides an environment of emotional support from staff members, volunteers and other families who are going through similar circumstances.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room located inside Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has been serving more than 1,500 individuals every month since opening in 2004. This room is an extension of the House where families and friends of seriously ill children can enjoy a quiet respite from corridors and waiting rooms with a comfortable seating area, a kitchen stocked with snacks, a children’s play area, a half bath and the support of caring staff and volunteers. For more information on how you can get involved, please visit or call (615) 343-4000.

About Nashville Zoo
Nashville Zoo is a nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. The Zoo is actively engaged in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs and education initiatives around the globe, as well as in our own backyard. The Zoo attracts more than 980,000 visitors annually and is considered one of the top attractions in Nashville. Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information about Nashville Zoo, visit

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.