Chaffee Zoo CEO Scott Barton and Valley Children’s President/CEO Todd Suntrapak announced the deal Friday, joined by the hospital’s giraffe mascot George as the zoo’s five real giraffes munched on alfalfa and romaine lettuce in the background. The zoo and the hospital “share, among other things, a fondness for giraffes,” Barton said.
The two CEOs jointly tugged on ropes to unveil the new placard declaring that the Twiga Terrace giraffe-feeding station is “proudly presented by Valley Children’s Healthcare.” The feeding station has been open, albeit without the naming rights, for about a year and a half, and has been a hit with zoo visitors.
For me it’s the perfect marriage of two of the finest organizations in the Valley that are focused on kids, really.
Todd Suntrapak, Valley Children’s Healthcare president/CEO
“This part of it is a sponsorship of the terrace. It draws the partnership between Valley Children’s and the zoo, but it’s really only the beginning of what we hope is a lot of other programs,” Barton said. “There’s also a natural partnership with George being their mascot and the giraffe-feeding station, so it was a natural piece for this to go together.”
Barton said he looks forward to coordinating visits by a zoomobile to the hospital so animals can be taken to visit children in their hospital rooms. “And we’d love to use Valley Children’s to come out to the zoo and promote healthy aspects, whether it’s diet or exercise, to help with health in the Valley and use the zoo’s draw of children and families to make better use of that,” he said.
Suntrapak said the deal meant a lot to him personally. “Having been born and raised in Fresno, and having been a patient at Valley Children’s throughout my childhood, and frequently having been a guest at the zoo when I was a kid,” he said, “for me it’s the perfect marriage of two of the finest organizations in the Valley that are focused on kids, really.”
Suntrapak and Barton “are talking about a number of things that will enhance education and focus on health and wellness for kids,” Suntrapak added, after taking a few moments to feed lettuce leaves to Kazi, a 3-year-old male giraffe. “That’s really the beauty of the partnership, to bring these two great organizations that are here for kids together to enhance the impact on the health and wellness of kids.”