Every year the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls teaches about 46,000 kids about animals through educational programs. Now, thanks to a partnership with KELO-TV, the zoo will have an even bigger reach.
Walking around the Great Plains Zoo, kids get the chance to see animals they normally would only read about. Now, with improvements to The Education Center, more kids will be able to learn about the animals they see.
"We're working on setting up free reading programs underneath our new reading tree. We'll have lots of animal installations with very fun hands-on animals that kids can watch grow. And we're adding distance learning. So really a lot of technology that will bring our kids into the behind the scenes workings of the zoo," said Great Plains Zoo President and CEO Elizabeth Whealy.
These state-of-the-art installments are thanks to a sponsorship from KELO-TV. Over the next five years, the sponsorship is worth $200,000 for the Education Center.
Once the City approves the naming rights, the Center will be known as the KELOLAND Education Center.
"We feel that we should be a part of the communities that we serve. And so it's more than just doing news stories and providing weather coverage. It's being involved in the communities. Providing sponsorships and making these types of things happen so we can provide that information that the zoo has and be able to connect that to the children here in KELOLAND," said Paul Farmer, Director of Marketing and Creative Services for KELO-TV.
"This is a significant investment in any non-profit. Here at the zoo, it'll really result in so many things that people can see and do. And kids' enjoyment and education. It will be a very visible, important, tangible gift," said Whealy.
The gift will also reach beyond the Sioux Falls location.
Classrooms across the state will have access to behind-the-scenes footage at the zoo, such as tigers getting teeth pulled, or birds learning to fly.
"Connecting kids with animals builds their empathy. It builds their understanding. And certainly it puts them steps ahead in terms of learning science, math, technology. These are all important things for kids as they develop into adults," said Whealy.
Zoo officials say the new installments should be completed sometime this fall.