San Diego Zoo Kids Channel Celebrates 250th Facility Milestone at George Mark Children’s House featuring Amazing Animal Stories from Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo
September 3, 2019

A huge celebration took place at George Mark Children’s House earlier today (Sept. 3, 2019), complete with animals from the Oakland Zoo—including a lesser tenrec, a box turtle and a blue-tongued skink—and flamingo and giraffe puppets from the San Diego Zoo. The special event for patients, their families, hospital staff and invited guests was presented to announce the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids, a closed-circuit television adventure channel, at George Mark Children’s House—making this the 250th launch event for the innovative television channel.

OZ Education Staff brought some fun animal ambassadors to the launch

Kathy Hull; Founder of George Mark Children's House, T. Denny Sanford; businessman and philanthropist, Kathy Cleberg; George Mark Children's House mother, Dr. Joel Parrot; CEO and President of Oakland Zoo, and Debra Erickson; Marketing Director of San Diego Zoo at the launch of the 250th San Diego Zoo Kids channel

The creation and development of the channel has been funded by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford. In 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded San Diego Zoo Global an outstanding Museums for America grant to bring San Diego Zoo Kids to 75 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald House Charities facilities across the nation over the next three years. The generous grant from IMLS made the channel available on television monitors at George Mark Children’s House.

“It is such a pleasure every day to provide our critically ill children with delightful experiences," said Kathy Hall, Ph.D., founder and staff psychologist of George Mark Children's House, the first independent pediatric palliative care center in the United States. “After watching the special bond that our children create with visiting zoo and therapy animals, we know how much they will enjoy the San Diego Zoo Kids channel. It will give them, and their families, a wonderful opportunity to further explore the world of animals. We want to express our enthusiastic appreciation to Denny Sanford for making this programming possible. Warm thanks also to our local partner, the Oakland Zoo, for providing animals for this event.”

The San Diego Zoo Kids channel features programs produced primarily for medical facilities that serve pediatric patients and their families. San Diego Zoo Kids furthers San Diego Zoo Global’s mission to inspire a passion for wildlife and brings the Zoo experience to young patients and their families during challenging times.Through partnerships with the Oakland Zoo, and other zoos, aquariums and nature reserves around the world, children are transported to special places to meet amazing animals and experience their breathtaking habitats. Kids also meet the animals’ caretakers and learn how individual animals have overcome medical challenges of their own.

"We are thrilled to partner with San Diego Kids Zoo channel in providing enriching animal-themed content to entertain, educate and promote species conservation,” said Dr. Joel Parrott, president and CEO, Oakland Zoo. “We hope that the stories we share will bring cheer to all the children and families that see them." 

Blue tongue skink was among the many animal ambassadors brought to George Mark
SDZ brought out animal puppeteers to entertain the kids at George Marks Children's House

Since the San Diego Zoo Kids channel debuted in 2013 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, more than 42 hours of up-close video encounters with animals, stories about caring for animals, quizzes about animals and habitats, and a wide variety of short video vignettes have been produced for the channel. Viewers can also see best-of videos from the San Diego Zoo’s Elephant Cam and other online cameras, as well as content from the Oakland Zoo and other zoos around the world.

“Thanks to the vision of philanthropist, Denny Sanford, children from around the world now have access to San Diego Zoo Kids,” said Debra Erickson, San Diego Zoo Global director of communications.“The channel fills a very important need during a child’s medical care, by providing distraction from treatment, as well as comfort and happiness. We look forward to bringing its healing properties to another 100 facilities over the next year.”

While today’s event celebrated the 250th facility to launch the channel, San Diego Zoo Kids has been installed in a total of 269 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses to date—in 43 states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia, and in facilities in Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Pakistan, Qatar, Curaçao and South Africa.



About George Mark Children’s House

George Mark Children’s House (GMCH), located in San Leandro, California, provides life-affirming care for children with illnesses that modern health care cannot yet cure, or for those who have chronic medical conditions. GMCH bridges the gap between hospital and home, offering safe, excellent medical care in the comfort and warmth of a home-like setting for patients who do not need the resources of a full children’s hospital. GMCH offers three types of service: Transitional Care for children who have usually been in an acute care hospital setting and still need medical care, but not of an acute nature, before they transition to being cared for at home; End-of-Life Care, where a patient’s family can stay in its own family suite and surround their child with love and support; and Respite Care, where patients receive high-quality medical care and appropriate activities while offering parents and families a short break from the nonstop care at home.


About Oakland Zoo and the Conservation Society of California

‍The award-winning Oakland Zoo, home to more than 850+ native and exotic animals and spanning 100 acres, is governed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC), a nonprofit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education, and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums(AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.


About the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums, and related organizations. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.


About IMLS Community Anchors Program
IMLS promotes the role of museums as essential partners in addressing the needs of their communities by leveraging their expertise, knowledge, physical space, technology and other resources to identify and implement solutions. By strengthening museums’ capacities for civic engagement, these projects contribute to the creation of livable, sustainable communities. IMLS welcomes applications for projects that empower museums to transform their roles in their communities from being community resources to being community catalysts.Museums have a role to play providing civic and cultural engagement, facilitating lifelong learning, promoting digital inclusion and supporting economic vitality through programming and services. IMLS encourages projects that demonstrate collaboration, adopt co-creating strategies and engage with a wide variety of cross-sector stakeholders to accomplish a sustained collective-impact goal.

San Diego Zoo Kids

San Diego Zoo Kids reaches out to millions of children each year who might not otherwise be able to experience the wonders of animals, plants and their habitats, with the goal of making nature accessible to children everywhere. As part of San Diego Zoo Global, an international nonprofit conservation organization that works to save plants and animals worldwide, San Diego Zoo Kids seeks to fight extinction by raising awareness, building respect and igniting a passion for wildlife and conservation among younger audiences. The San Diego Zoo Kids website ( provides a learning experience about animals, habitats and conservation for children anywhere. San Diego Zoo Kids provides free and discounted education programs in San Diego that meet LEAD standards for science curriculum and provides teacher training ( The San Diego Zoo Kids channel ( broadcasts television programming in more than 260 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses around the world, providing joy, comfort, laughter and learning to children and their families who are experiencing challenging times. To learn more, visit the links above or connect with us on Facebook and YouTube.