|Created by||Martin Kratt
|Presented by||Chris Kratt
Gord Robertson (voice of Zoboo)
|Theme music composer||Pure West|
|Country of origin||United States
|No. of episodes||65 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Leo Eaton
Peter Moss (2000-2001)
|Producer(s)||Kratt Brothers Company
Maryland Public Television
|Original release||January 25, 1999– November 21, 2001|
|Preceded by||Kratts' Creatures (1996)|
|Followed by||Wild Kratts (2011-present)|
Zoboomafoo is an American/Canadian children's television series that aired from January 25, 1999 to November 21, 2001 and is still shown today in syndication depending on the area and it is regularly shown on Sprout. A total of 65 episodes were aired. A creation of the Kratt brothers (Chris and Martin), it features a talking Coquerel's Sifaka lemur named Zoboomafoo (voiced by Toronto-born puppeteer Gord Robertson) 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. On November 10, 2014, at the age of 20, Jovian, the lemur who played Zoboomafoo in the show, died of kidney failure at the Duke Lemur Center.
Premise and structure
Upon their arrival at Animal Junction, the Kratt brothers lean out the window and summon Zoboomafoo — or Zoboo for short — who is shown in a live-action segment as a lemur leaping across a field to reach them. When the lemur reaches Animal Junction, the Kratt brothers offer him a snack, generally some 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 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 called "Who Could It Be?" is sung while a cartoon shows colored blobs that turn into 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 aspects of that animal.
At least once an episode, Zoboomafoo says that some event in Animal Junction reminds him of a time in Zobooland, where Zoboo tells stories about his friends in Zobooland — Gooble (a purple bear-like creature who eats Goobleberries), Narchi (an elephant-like creature who can play catch by blowing a Goobleberry off his trunk), Sensit (a lemur-like creature with very acute hearing) and his three younger sisters, Wiggy Waxwing (a waxwing), Green Puppy, Slimantha (a salamander who loves giving hugs to her friends), Noggendrill (a burrowing animal who uses his drill-shaped horn to dig with), Snow Lemur (a lemur who lives on snowy Mount Zoboomafoo), Baby and Mama Zoboomafoosaurus (two theropods who the animals often play on), Bugly (a large, flying insect), Fibby (a water creature with several parts including a tentacle and a crab leg) and Cy (a levitating, one-eyed squid with three tentacles introduced in season two). These segments use clay animation and feature distinct voices for each character.
After Zobooland, Martin, Chris and Zoboomafoo receive a letter from the animal helpers, who show kids how to help animals. At the end of each episode, Zoboo returns to his home in Madagascar. Chris and Martin also leave Animal Junction to better demonstrate the theme of the day, traveling to a region, often in South Asia or Africa, to visit the creatures there.
There is also a video game for the PC based off Zoboomafoo, where kids learn the alphabet and animals that correlate to each letter. Some of the letters have interactive games to go with them, such as a coloring page.
- The Mystery Animal (Theme song: "Who Could It Be?")
- Zobooland Story #1
- Animal Helpers
- A Journey to Visit Animals (Theme song: "Going to the Closet")
- Zobooland Story #2
- Ending Theme: Animal Friends
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired (U.S. dates)|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||40||January 25, 1999||April 27, 2000|
|2||25||October 3, 2000||November 21, 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 twice a real duck. It is often an eagle, a male peregrine falcon named Stickyfeet or a female barn owl named Moonface.
Another segment of the show features a group of children 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. Samantha Tolkacz appeared on the series as Jackie from its debut in 1999 until May 2000, at which point Genevieve Farrell replaced her, appearing as Amy for the rest of the show's run. Zoboo would also give the animals interesting names that have to do with their appearance, behavior or personality. Examples: A baby Indian 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; two black bear cubs were Muscles and Muscly, because they are strong; a dog was given the name "Lost-n-found" because he was a lost dog when he was a puppy, 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. 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."
Partial filming for the show took place on location at the Lemur Center. Although the last new episode aired on PBS in November 2001, most PBS stations continued to rerun Zoboomafoo episodes in syndication until January 2004. In addition, Sprout airs reruns once every afternoon at 4:25pm and TVO kids airs reruns at 7:30am on Sunday mornings. The show can also be found on WNED-TV, the PBS affiliate in Buffalo, New York, every weekend at 6:30am. In 2003, the Kratt Brothers began a short-lived show Be the Creature on the National Geographic Channel, then began a new children's animated series Wild Kratts in January 2011, which is currently aired on PBS. Jovian, a captive Coquerel's sifaka housed at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina portrayed Zoboomafoo in the live-action segments. Jovian died of kidney failure on November 10, 2014, aged 20.
- Deutsch, Lindsay. "Internet mourns loss of celebrity lemur Zoboomafoo". USA Today.
- 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.