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Children Receiving Cancer Treatment Get Unique Experience With Zoo Animals

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Cancer Institute is hoping to give kids battling cancer a break while undergoing treatment.

A room known as the Infusionarium takes pediatric cancer patients and gives them experiences their treatment otherwise keeps them away from.

They have their choice of interactive experiences including virtual theme park rides and flights to outer space, but Baptist Health invited CBS4 for an Infusarium first: a live-streaming animal show with Zoo Miami's Ron Magill.

"I think it's a wonderful concept to have these kids in a place where they can escape for a little while, kind of take a mental trip and learn a little bit about the fascinating world of wildlife," says Magill.

Magill sat in front of a laptop camera, using his oversized personality to put on a show with a snake, lizard and other Zoo Miami animals.

Miles away, the children watched live on a giant screen while they received their cancer treatment.

"I believe animals have an incredible power to heal. You can go to any hospital and see sometimes a therapy dog or a therapy animal come in and you see a kid who hasn't smiled in a long time and all of a sudden a smile hits their face," says Magill.

There were lots of smiles in the Infusarium as the kids and their parents looked on.

"When you're getting chemotherapy it's not the happiest day of your life, but they're coming today and they're very happy to come," says Miami Cancer Institute Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Doured Daghistani.

While it's an opportunity for the young cancer patients to disconnect from their treatment, for parents it offers peace of mind.

One patient's mother, Yusledy Jarquin, said, "It's soothing and comforting to know that he likes coming, regardless, and that he sees it as a place to come and play and have a good time."

Baptist Health says only two hospitals in the entire country offer this type of immersive technology to young patients, The Miami Cancer Institute and a facility in California.

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