Samantha Tolkacz (Season 1)
Genevieve Farrell (Season 2)
|Theme music composer||
|Country of origin||
|No. of episodes||65 (List of episodes)|
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 aired from January 25, 1999 to November 21, 2001. It is still currently shown in syndication (depending on the area) and it 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 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. It is currently unknown if the series will return.
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), 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 (shouting, "ZOBOOMAFOOOOOOOOO!!!"), leaps off while briefly laughing, and becomes a talking lemur puppet (voiced by Gord 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 that 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 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 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, who show children how to help animals. This leads 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 is also a 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
- Animal Helpers
- A Journey to Visit Animals (Song: "Going to the Closet")
- Zobooland Story #2
- Ending Theme: Animal Friends
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired (U.S. dates)|
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||40||January 25, 1999||April 27, 2000|
|2||25||October 23, 2000||May 1, 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 in a swimming pool, mud puddle, and even 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, the bird is 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!", "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, 1999 until May 2000, 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; and 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 the series).
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: For 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. Although the last new episode aired on PBS in May 2001, most PBS stations continued to rerun Zoboomafoo episodes in syndication until January 2004. In addition, Sprout airs reruns once every afternoon at 4:25 PM 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 6:30 AM. 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 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 (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.
- 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.