A child at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel watches the video stream. A child at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel watches the video stream. A child at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel watches the video stream. (Photo: Facebook)

Playful primate cam broadcasting cheer to kids at hospital

The daily lives of meddling monkeys and optimistic orangutans are being live-streamed to a children's wing.

Earlier this year, office workers around the world tuned into a live webcast of a pregnant giraffe named April. By the time she gave birth and the YouTube camera was shut off, 232 million people had watched the stream.

From cameras monitoring panda pens to eagles' nests, the popularity of these live streams have reached new heights, thanks to technology and the ubiquity of high-speed internet. Now a zoo in Israel is using a live web stream for more than just water cooler fodder.

The Ramat Gan Animal Safari, located in a suburb of the Mediterranean metropolis of Tel Aviv, just launched a live stream from its chimp, gorilla and orangutan habitats. But don't think about logging in to watch the playful primates. This stream is not available to the general public, but is instead sent directly to the nearby Sheba Medical Center for the hospital's young patients to watch. The goal is to help cheer up the sick children by giving them 24/7 access to see what their favorite furry friends are up to. The doctors also believe that the videos can assist the children in dealing with the stress of their illness.

Hospitals have long tried to cheer up young patients – usually a visiting clown comes to mind – but this seems to be among the first to team up with a zoo for exclusive footage. "We are happy to be part of this important project," the safari wrote on its Facebook page. "We're waiting for every child from the hospital to be released, and will come to us and meet the therapists and animals face to face."

At the moment, the streams are only visible in the children's wing at this specific hospital, but the safari hopes to expand the program to include other hospitals as well. The videos are part of a multi-pronged approach the safari is taking to help children who are sick or those with special needs. Just last week, an autistic child named Tommy spent the day at the zoo as part of a "Tommy 1, Autism 0" campaign orchestrated by his parents.

An autistic boy named Tommy recently spent the day at the safari near Tel Aviv.An autistic boy named Tommy recently spent the day at the safari near Tel Aviv. (Photo: Facebook)

The animals at the zoo are always ready for their closeup. Last month, there was the mama monkey who adopted a baby chick, and then there was the lions who set up a bowling alley set in their den. This summer, From The Grapevine's very own intrepid reporter, Ilana Strauss, got a chance to tour the Ramat Gan Safari. You can watch one of her videos here:

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