|Created by||Chris Kratt
|Presented by||Chris Kratt
Samantha Tolkacz (Season 1)
Genevieve Farrell (Season 2)
|Theme music composer||Sterling Jarvis
|Country of origin||United States
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||65 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Leo Eaton
Peter Moss (2000-2001)
Maryland Public Television
(Cookie Jar Group)
|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 originally aired from January 25, 1999 to November 21, 2001. It is still currently shown in syndication (depending on the area) and was regularly shown on Sprout until 2011. A total of 65 episodes were aired. A creation of the Kratt brothers (Chris and Martin), it features a talking Coquerel's sifaka named Zoboomafoo (voiced by Ottawa-born puppeteer Gord Robertson and mainly portrayed by Jovian) 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 series was pulled from its weekday airing on most PBS stations, though some continue to air it. The show is/was broadcast in the US, Canada, Latin America, Brazil, Australia, Spain, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands, Middle East, India and Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia in Serbian language. On November 10, 2014, Jovian died of renal failure in his home at the Duke Lemur Center at the age of 20.
Premise and structure
Upon their arrival at Animal Junction, the Kratt brothers (Chris and Martin Kratt) lean out the window and call Zoboomafoo [or "Zoboo" for short] (portrayed by Jovian), 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 (shouting, "ZOBOOMAFOOOOOOOOO!!!"), leaps off while briefly laughing and becomes a talking lemur puppet (voiced by Robertson). 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 series 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 try 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 Zoboomafoo, Chris and Martin into a conversation about various aspects of said particular animal. At least once every episode-- sometimes twice-- Zoboomafoo says that some event in Animal Junction reminds him of a time in Zobooland, where he tell stories about his best friends in Zobooland, such as Gooble (a rabbit that eats berries), Narchi (an anteater-like creature), Sensit (a lemur creature that typically plays around), Wiggy Waxwing, Green Puppy, Slimantha, Noggendrill (a mole that uses his drill-shaped horn), Snow Lemur (a lemur that lives on Mount Zoboomafoo), Baby and Mama Zoboomafooasaurus (dinosaurs that the animals often play on), Bugly, Fibby (a sea creature with several parts including a tentacle and a crab leg) and Cy (a levitating, one-eyed, squid introduced in the second season). These segments are animated, using clay animation and feature distinct voices for each character. After the first Zobooland story, Zoboomafoo, Chris and Martin receive a letter from the Animal Helpers (Jackie in the first season), who show children how to help animals, subsequently leading into Chris and Martin going out to visit creatures related to the theme (always began with a song sung by Zoboo called "Going to the Closet"). At the end of each episode, Zoboomafoo 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 are also several video game for the PC based on Zoboomafoo, where children 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.
- Chris Kratt as himself
- Martin Kratt as himself
- Gord Robertson as Zoboomafoo (voice)
- Jovian as Zoboomafoo
- Samantha Tolkacz as Jackie (Season 1)
- Genevieve Farrell as Amy (Season 2)
- The Mystery Animal (Song: "Who Could It Be?")
- Zobooland Story #1
- Duck/Animal Helpers
- A Journey to Visit Animals (Song: "Going to the Closet")
- Zobooland Story #2
- Ending Theme: Animal Friends
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||40||January 25, 1999||April 27, 2000||PTV|
|2||25||October 3, 2000||November 21, 2001||PBS Kids|
The series has some forms of slapstick and situation comedy as well. Running gags of the series include Chris and Martin (and sometimes, Zoboomafoo) falling into a swimming pool, mud puddle and even simply falling down. The most prominent of these recurring jokes, the "closet" gag, involves a crammed closet which Chris and Martin open to gather needed items for an exploration. As Zoboomafoo sings a song about the brothers' preparations for "going on a trip," Chris and Martin open the door and an avalanche of outdoor items and clothes fall on them, knocking them over and resulting in laughter from them. Then they emerge from the pile of gear, fully equipped for their trip; in one episode, Chris and Martin open the closet, expecting to be buried under its contents, only to find a clean and organized closet (and sometimes, the items end up falling on them anyway). A form of slapstick comedy shown in the series is when Zoboomafoo or the brothers get hit by flying items, such as pies, balls and even yarn thrown by animals (an example would be in the episode "Fling"). Also, just before the trip, there is always a bird that flies down towards Animal Junction, making Chris and Martin yell, "Incoming! Duck!" Only twice in the show's history was the bird a real duck. It is often an eagle, a male peregrine falcon named Sticky Feet or a female barn owl named Moon Face. Zoboomafoo's catchphrases are "Mangatsika! (a Malagasy phrase meaning "Cool!")" "I meant to do that!" "I can't believe my mind!" "I'm voky!" and "Hey! Hoo! Hubba hubba!"
Another segment of the series features a group of children known as the Animal Helpers, who send messages to the Kratt brothers at Animal Junction through 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 on January 25, 1998 until April 27, 1999, at which point Genevieve Farrell replaced her, appearing as Amy for the rest of the series' run. Zoboomafoo 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; a tiger was named "Popper" because she pops balls; a white-fronted capuchin monkey was named "Fling" because he likes to throw things around; a baby horse was named "Fuzz" because she is very soft; two penguins named "Splish" and "Splash" because they splash in the water; a moose calf was named "Twiggly" because moose like to eat sticks; and an anteater was named "Slurpy." Other segments include "Zoboomafoo," "I Feel (whatever Zoboomafoo is feeling like today)" and "Come Make an Animal Friend Today" (at the end of each episode). Before the credits of each episode, a disclaimer is played telling the viewers that they should be careful with the animals they meet. Then Chris and Martin mention animal facts that lead Zoboomafoo to a joke. Example: "Knock knock. Who's there? Panther. Panther who? Panther no pants, I'm goin' swimmin'!"
Partial filming for the series took place on location at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina. 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, Universal Kids aired reruns once every afternoon at 4:25pm. TVO Kids no longer shows the show on their channel, but it can be found on WNED-TV, the PBS affiliate in Buffalo, New York, every weekend at 6:30am (with the Saturday episode being a repeat of the previous Sunday's episode). In 2003, the Kratt Brothers began a short-lived series titled Be the Creature on the National Geographic Channel, then began a new children's animated series Wild Kratts in January 2011, which currently airs on PBS. Jovian, a captive Coquerel's sifaka housed at the Duke Lemur Center, portrayed Zoboomafoo in the live-action segments (along with stand-ins). On November 10, 2014, Jovian died of renal failure in his home at age 20.
Awards and nominations
- Deutsch, Lindsay. "Internet mourns loss of celebrity lemur Zoboomafoo". USA Today.
- "Old Games Finder". Old Games Finder. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "Remembering a Star: Jovan, Lemur Host of Zobomoofaoo Passes". Duke Lemur Center. 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
- 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.