|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||65 (list of episodes)|
|Original release||January 25, 1999 –|
June 7, 2001
|Preceded by||Kratts' Creatures (1996)|
|Followed by||Wild Kratts (2011–present)|
Zoboomafoo is an American-Canadian children's television series that originally aired on PBS from January 25, 1999 to June 7, 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 lemur (a Coquerel's sifaka) named Zoboomafoo, voiced by Ottawa-born puppeteer Gord Robertson, and mainly portrayed by a lemur named Jovian, along with 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 and the Republic of Macedonia in the Serbian language. On November 10, 2014, Jovian died in his home at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina 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, and occasionally "Zob") (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 burps, exclaiming "Excuse me," and then spins around on a turntable, shouting, "Zoboomafoo-oo-oo-oo!" at which point he 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 Narchi (an anteater creature), Gooble (a rabbit creature that eats goobleberries), 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 a mountain), Baby Zoboomafooasaurus and Zoboomafooasaurus (dinosaurs, who appear in CGI, that the animals often play on), Buggly (a bug that Zoboo rides on), Fibby (a sea creature with several parts including a tentacle and a crab leg) and Sy (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 and the brothers sing "Animal Friends". Finally, Zoboo returns to his home in Madagascar. There are three episodes where Zoboo doesn't return home to 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. Prior to the credits, kids show and tell about various animals and pets they have.
- 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)
- Zoboomafoo Theme
- 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|
|1||40||January 25, 1999||April 27, 2000|
|2||25||October 3, 2000||June 7, 2001|
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, a 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. 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. 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 (although the second of which was stock footage of the first instance). It is often a peregrine falcon named Sticky Feet or an 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 turkey vulture (named Tomatohead), a barn owl (named Moonface), a lanner falcon (named Sandstorm), a peregrine falcon (named Stickyfeet), a great horned owl (named Blink), a saker falcon, a golden eagle (named Talon), a duck, a snowy owl, a crow 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, 1999 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." 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 going swimming!" The disclaimer and joke were edited out for non-PBS airings.
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, some PBS stations still continue to broadcast the program. In addition, Sprout aired reruns until July 2011.
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 and TVOntario, among others.
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
There are also several video games 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.
- Deutsch, Lindsay (November 12, 2014). "Internet mourns loss of celebrity lemur Zoboomafoo". USA Today. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- "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.
- "Old Games Finder". Old Games Finder. Retrieved June 16, 2017.