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Great Plains Zoo Announces Partnership with Sanford Childrens

Partnership to Bring Zoo Experience to Additional Communities and Hospital Patients

(Sioux Falls, SD) The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History announced today a partnership with Sanford Children’s to enhance facilities, visitor amenities, education programming, animal care and staffing as well as make the zoo experience available to thousands more children and families in the region. The Great Plains Zoo will use a portion of a $571,000 contribution from Sanford Children’s over five years to create the brand-new ZooExpress and the new ZooTV.

The ZooExpress vehicle will frequently bring zoo educators and animals to area events, Sanford Clinics and community celebrations. Zoo educators will also visit Sanford Children’s hospital several days a week with content-rich animal education programming, giving patients and their families a welcomed distraction from their hospital stay.

ZooTV includes 14 new cameras throughout the zoo’s campus which will connect to patient and waiting rooms at Sanford Children’s Hospital and Sanford USD Medical Center, giving patients a live, fun visit with animals at the zoo. These cameras will also provide animal caregivers new ways to do their jobs more easily and precisely.

“This sponsorship by Sanford Children’s is a significant boost to how we can serve our mission of connecting kids with animals,” stated Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History President and CEO, Elizabeth Whealy. “From improving Zoo facilities, to expanding the quality and breadth of our educational programming, to making possible new, exciting enhancements to the Zoo visitor experience, this gift takes our Zoo to an exciting, new level. We are grateful for Sanford Children’s vision for the health of area kids. ”

Technology infrastructure and educational programming work is currently underway. Both ZooTV and ZooExpress will be fully operational when the new Sanford Children’s Hospital building opens March 2009.

“Animals have a tremendous healing power, especially for children, which is why it’s important for Sanford Children’s to be a part of this community project,” added Charles P. O’Brien, MD, President Sanford USD Medical Center and Sanford Children’s Hospital. “Together, our two organizations can enhance a community asset like The Great Plains Zoo and bring smiles to thousands of children.”

About The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History

The Great Plains Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums – named among the Top 10% of animal institutions in the country. The Zoo offers visitors an up-close look at 850 animals (up by 350 animals in just a few years), from anteaters to zebras, penguins to porcupines, and including an exciting animal collection often not found in larger zoos: tigers, snow leopards, giraffes, rhinoceros, flamingoes and a variety of primates.

The Zoo also includes the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, a local treasure that houses a rare, one-in-the-world collection of 150 mounted animals, including 36 “vanishing species”.

In 2008, the Zoo unveiled a new, engaging Asian Cat exhibit, featuring up-close viewing of the amazing big cats. Also recently completed is a new Children’s Zoo, with overhead goat bridges, pony rides and about five times the number of pettable animals for up-close, interactive feeding opportunities.

The Zoo’s attendance in 2007 was 220,000 visitors, up 60% over just two years before. The Zoo teaches 20,000 schoolchildren through ZooMobiles that reach the four-state area, and through on-site ZooCamps and classes. The Zoo participates in 17 endangered species breeding programs, working globally to enhance populations of snow leopards, Siamang gibbons, and other endangered animals.

About Sanford Children’s Hospital

A part of the Sanford Health system, Sanford Children’s Hospital provides the highest level of pediatric care in its region. Currently located within Sanford USD Medical Center, Sanford Children’s Hospital will move into a new, free-standing building March 2009. This new building will provide inpatient, outpatient and clinic services for pediatric patients and their families in a family-centered environment designed to meet the unique healing needs of children. A leader in children’s healthcare for nearly a century, Sanford Children’s will continue to revolutionize healthcare with this new facility. The new building will also serve as a home base for several new pediatric clinics to be built around the world in the next ten years.


Great Plains Zoo
Elizabeth Whealy | President and CEO
605-367-8313, ext. 12 /

Stacy Bauer Jones | Media Relations Coordinator
(605) 328-7056 |