|Created by||Martin Kratt
|Presented by||Chris Kratt
|Starring||Gord Robertson (voice of Zoboo)
Samantha Tolkacz (animal helper)
Genevieve Farrell (animal helper)
|Theme music composer||Pure West|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||65 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Leo Eaton
Peter Moss (1999–2000)
|Producer(s)||Maryland Public Television Production
(Cookie Jar Group)
|Original channel||PBS Kids|
|Original run||January 25, 1999– April 28, 2001|
|Preceded by||Kratts' Creatures|
|Followed by||Wild Kratts|
Zoboomafoo is an American children's television series that aired from January 25, 1999 to April 28, 2001, and is still shown today in syndication depending on the area, and it is regularly shown on Sprout and TVO Kids in Canada. A total of 65 episodes were aired. A creation of the Kratt Brothers (Chris and Martin Kratt), it features a talking Coquerel's Sifaka, a lemur, named Zoboomafoo, or Zoboo for short, and a collection of repeat animal guests. Every episode begins with the Kratt brothers in "Animal Junction", a peculiar place in which the rules of nature change and wild animals come to visit and play. After January 16, 2004, the show was pulled from its weekday airing on most PBS stations, though some continue to air the show.
Premise and structure
Upon their arrival at Animal Junction, the Kratt brothers lean out the window and summon Zoboomafoo, who is shown in a live-action segment as an actual lemur leaping across a field to reach them. When the lemur reaches Animal Junction, the Kratt brothers offer him a snack, generally some lemur-appropriate food like garbanzo beans, sweet potato or mango slices, whereupon the "real" lemur spins around on a turntable (yelling, "ZOBOOMAFOOOOOOOOO!!!") and becomes a talking lemur puppet. This change enables Zoboomafoo to lead into the main segment of the episode, which he begins by describing a "Mangatsika!" (a Malagasy word literally meaning "cold," but used in the show to mean "cool!") animal that he saw as he traveled to Animal Junction.
As he describes the animal, a song is played wondering "Who Could It Be?", while a cartoon shows the characteristics of the "mystery animal". At the end of the song, Chris and Martin attempt to guess the animal Zoboomafoo has described and the mystery is solved when the animal or animals arrive at Animal Junction. Each episode has a theme, for example, baby animals, frightening animals, or the importance of play. The arrival of the "mystery animal", generally used as exposition, leads the Kratts and Zoboo into a conversation about various aspects of that particular animal.
Once an episode, Zoboomafoo says that some event in Animal Junction reminds him of a time in Zobooland, where Zoboo tell stories about his friends in Zobooland, such as: Gooble (a purple animal that eats berries), Narchi (an anteater-like creature), Sensit (a mouse lemur that typically plays around), Wiggy Waxwing, Green Puppy, Slimantha, Noggindrill (a burrowing animal that uses his drill-shaped horn), Snow Lemur (a lemur that lives on a mountain), Baby and Mama Zoboomafoosaurus (a theropod that the animals often play on), Buggly, Fibby (a water creature with several parts including a tentacle and a crab leg) and Cy (a levitating, one-eyed, squid). These segments are animated using clay animation and feature distinct voices for each character. After Zobooland Martin, Chris, and Zoboomafoo receive a letter from the animal helpers. The animal helpers show kids how to help animals. Chris and Martin also leave Animal Junction near the end of each episode to better demonstrate the theme of the day, travelling to exotic places like India or Africa to visit the creatures there.
- Mystery Animal Song: Who Could It Be?
- Zobooland Story #1
- Jackie/Amy and Animal Helpers
- "Going to the closet"
- A Journey to Visit Animals
- Zobooland Story #2
- Animal Friends Song: Ending
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired (U.S. dates)|
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||40||January 25, 1999||May 19, 2000|
|2||25||January 1, 2001||April 28, 2001|
The show has some forms of slapstick and situation comedy as well. Running gags of the show include the Kratt brothers (and sometimes Zoboo) falling in a swimming pool, a mud puddle, and even falling down. The most prominent of these recurring jokes, the "closet" gag, involves a crammed closet which the brothers open to gather needed items for an exploration. As the Zoboomafoo puppet sings a song about the brothers' preparations for "going on a trip", the brothers open the door and an avalanche of outdoor items and clothing fall on them, knocking them over and resulting in laughter from the brothers. They then emerge from the pile of gear, fully equipped for their trip; in one episode, the brothers open the closet, expecting to be buried under its contents, only to find a clean and organized closet. A form of slapstick comedy shown in the show is when the Brothers or Zoboo get hit by flying items, such as pies, balls, and even yarn thrown by animals. An example would be in the episode "Fling". Zoboomafoo's catchphrases are "Mangatsika!", "I meant to do that", and "I can't believe my mind!" Also, just before the trip, there is always a bird that flies down towards Animal Junction, causing the brothers to yell, "Incoming, Duck!" The bird is only once actually a duck. It is often an eagle, a falcon, or an owl.
Another segment of the show features a group of children, including actress Genevieve Farrell who starred on the show for 25 episodes, known as the "Animal Helpers", who send messages to the Kratt brothers at Animal Junction via a series of birds: a barn owl, a vulture, a duck, and several others. The letters lead into short stories illustrating the Animal Helpers' interactions with the animals in their environment, performing small tasks such as placing a baby bird back in its nest, or leading a calf back to a mother cow.
Zoboo would also give the animals interesting names that have to do with their appearance, behavior, or personality. Examples: A male elephant was given the name "Toothbrush" because of his bristly hair; a young female chimp was named "Brainiac", because chimps are very intelligent; two sloths were named "Slow" and "Slower", because sloths are very slow; 2 bears were Mussles and Mussly, because they are strong; a dog was given the name "Lostnfound", because he was a lost dog, but was then found; and a tiger was named "Popper", because she pops balls, along with her sister "Poppa"; a white-fronted capuchin monkey was named "Fling" because he likes to throw things around; a horse was named "Fuzz", because she's very soft; and 2 penguins named "Splish" and "Splash" because they splash in the water. Other segments include: "Zoboomafoo", "I Feel (whatever Zoboo is feeling like today)" and "Come Make an Animal Friend Today".
Before the credits of each episode, a disclaimer is played telling the viewers that they should be careful with the animals they meet. Then the Kratt brothers mention animal facts that lead Zoboo to a joke. For example, "Knock-Knock. Who's there? Panther. Panther Who? Panther no pants, I'm going swimming."
The actual lemur that portrays Zoboomafoo is Jovian, a captive Coquerel's Sifaka housed at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina. Partial filming for the show took place on location at the Lemur Center. Although the last new episode aired on PBS on Saturday April 21, 2001, Sprout airs reruns once every afternoon, at 4:25 p.m. TVO kids also shows reruns every weekday at 1:00 p.m. In 2003 the Kratt Brothers committed to a new show, Be the Creature, on the National Geographic Channel. Zoboomafoo continued to air regularly on many PBS stations until 2004.
- Williams, Donna (May 21, 2001). "PBS Wins Two More Daytime Emmys at Televised Ceremony". PBS News Archive (New York, NY). Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- Fries, Laura. "Zoboomafoo". Parents' Choice Awards: Television. Parents' Choice. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- "Zoboomafoo". Parents' Choice Awards: Television. Parents' Choice. Retrieved April 17, 2013.