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San Diego Zoo Program Coming To Sanford Children's Hospital

February 22, 2014, 9:55 PM by Angela Kennecke

San Diego Zoo Program Coming To Sanford Children's Hospital

Kids love animals and getting a chance to see them can help sick children take their mind off how they feel for a while. 

That's why Denny Sanford is funding a program to bring videos of animals from the San Diego Zoo into children's hospital rooms around the country, including here in Sioux Falls. 

The San Diego Zoo is a world-famous tourist attraction.  But many children are too sick to ever make the trip here.  That's why Denny Sanford is bringing the zoo to them.

"I put Minnesota Zoo in Mayo clinic in Rochester, so it would be natural to put all this programming into the top children's hospitals in the world because it brings down the tension level of kids in a hospital situation," Sanford said. 

The animal programming from the San Diego Zoo is already available at the children's hospital in San Diego and another one in Los Angeles.  It will soon be coming to Sanford Children's in Sioux Falls. 

Sanford is paying for the equipment needed in the hospitals to get the animal videos into kids’ rooms. 

"We've got about five hours of content we'll be looping and every week we'll be adding brand new content about things that are happening with the animals, not only at the San Diego Zoo, but we'll be partnering with Great Plains Zoo too and be able to feature some of their content," Debra Erickson of the San Diego Zoo said.

"The San Diego Zoo is giving this to all hospitals worldwide at no cost; zero costs.  So it was just a perfect one plus one equals 10," Sanford said.

The zoo says it's heard over and over again from health care professionals that watching animals can reduce pain in sick kids and help them sleep better. 

"Then our dream is that in the end, when we have a proof of concept, every single children's hospital in the United States will receive the San Diego Zoo Kids Channel,"  Erickson said.

The San Diego Zoo Kids Channel will debut at Sanford Children's Hospital on March 3rd. 

Denny Sanford is getting this year's Sioux Falls Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year Award.  He'll be in Sioux Falls to pick up the award Tuesday night.

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