BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Zoo staff has been making some Zoom calls lately to brighten the days of children’s hospital patients.
When 17-year-old Che Penn answered one of the calls on Tuesday afternoon, noisy fluttering African penguins appeared.
READ MORE: Project recovery to accept applications in September, Governor Hogan says:
“They’re so cute,” Penn exclaimed.
The teen is a cancer patient at Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital in Sinai and has had the opportunity to have many different virtual encounters with animals from the zoo.
“I’ve had turtles, I’ve had birds, I’ve only had penguins. I’ve seen a lot of the zoo,” she said.
The hospital has long welcomed animals to the hospital, but when the COVID-19 pandemic started, the virtual encounters were the only way for the patients to see the animals.
READ MORE: The Jerk Garden at Terra Café seeks support after local ordinances threaten to close outdoor entertainment
“Every time you’re in a hospital, it’s probably not the best day,” says Kristin VanBuskirk, the Maryland Zoo Education Manager. “So we hope to spark a little joy and put a smile on a kid’s face.”
VanBuskirk said the virtual visits were part of the zoo’s programming before the pandemic began.
“It really makes my day,” Penn said. “Especially on days when I don’t feel like doing anything, I get a little visit and it’s like aw ok.”
For more information, visit: marylandzoo.org and click the Learn tab to learn about all of the zoo’s virtual programming.
MORE NEWS: Maryland schools push for eligible children to be vaccinated as coronavirus cases rise; New School Mask Mandate Begins in Baltimore County Schools