Do you remember Zoboomafoo? I just can't get myself to forget the name! It was one of the best shows I watched back then. Let's take a nostalgic trip back in time to the days when Zoboomafoo was the talk of the school. Zoboomafoo was a 65 episodes kid's television show that was initially aired on PBS from January 25, 1999, to June 7, 2001. The show was created by the Kratt Brothers, it featured a speaking lemur called Zoboomafoo, performed by Ottawa-born puppeteer Gord Robertson, and mostly portrayed by a lemur named Jovian, along with a group of recurring guests of animals. Each episode began in the “Animal Junction”, a special habitation with distinctive rules of nature where animals come for enjoyment. The puppets for this series were designed by Bob McGrath and created by the Kratt Brothers.
Great life lessons for the kids back in the day
The TV program Zoboomafoo title character was an anthropomorphic lemur who wore a red bow tied at his tail. He lived in Sesame Street, an imaginary place where animals lived together in harmony, and he appeared in every episode as a guide to teach children life lessons about kindness, friendship, believing in yourself, sharing with others, and treating everyone with respect.
Zoboomafoo was also capable of speaking English as well as some French and Spanish. He was often accompanied by his friends and co-hosts Chris Kratt and Martin Kratt, two human brothers who play various settings to give Zoboomafoo a chance to teach kids about ecology and natural history.
Zoboomafoo usually appeared in episodes during the second half of each program, at which point he gave a short lesson in ecology or natural history to the children. Many of the show's plots involved Zoboomafoo teaching a moral lesson about nature and various characters giving him advice.
Zoboomafoo made animals seem fun and exciting, but it also reminded kids that they are a vital part of nature, and must be protected. The show reminded young viewers that they have a role to play in protecting wildlife; and that their actions have consequences for animals.
Do you remember this Zoboomafoo theme song? I can't get it off my head!
Cinematographic Significance of the Show Zoboomafoo
Zoboomafoo's voice was provided by Canadian-born puppeteer Gord Robertson.
The show gained popularity for its use of close-up shots of wild animals, which were generally filmed in their native habitat. The show was also known for the eye-catching yellow jumpsuits worn by the main characters (the lemur, the brothers, the narrator), which were sometimes referred to as zoboo suits. The bright colors of the costumes contrasted with the dark colors of most rainforest animals and served to make them easier to spot on camera among dense foliage.
In addition, the series featured a collection of animal guests who would appear on the show. Most episodes featured two or three animals, and occasionally an entire group of animals (such as in "Giant Pandas"). Some characters were designed for use in puppet segments while others made appearances that utilized some form of digital effects, such as chroma key or animatronics.
Zoboomafoo’s Wit and Humour for both kids and adult viewers
Image Source: Wikipedia
Each episode begun with a brief puppet segment featuring Zoboomafoo (voiced by Gord Robertson) and his human friends Chris (Martin Kratt) and Martin Jr. (Chris Kratt). Each segment showed the lemur doing something silly or exhibiting a physical characteristic that is played off humorously by his human friends. This opening always ended in a humorous manner as Martin Jr.
The Kratt brothers really seemed to understand children. For example, the show's humor was extremely witty and clever, especially when Zoboo the lemur pokes his head through the window and offers sarcastic comments on what the Kratt brothers are doing.
JB was an easy-going host who liked to talk about the animals and their habitats, along with playing games with the lemurs and just hanging out. While he was a cool laid-back guy, he also showed his wild side from time to time. In one episode for example as they are looking at an indoor aviary, a flock of birds fly in front of JB and he spun around like an action hero while saying "Thunderbirds are go!" Another episode featureed him hanging upside down from a tree screaming like Tarzan.
The other main character was Zeebee, the host's pet ruffed lemur. He and JB split their time between the zoo and their house, which was built in the forest of Madagascar. Zeebee was portrayed as a mischievous trouble-maker who enjoyed play pranks on people and teasing his best friend JB. JB often caught him in these pranks and punished him by making him stand in a corner with his hands behind his back while shouting at the top of his lungs. Zeebee was portrayed as adventurous, yet clumsy, rambunctious and a bit of a goofball. He was always up to mischief and usually got into trouble.
A memory that late 90s kids and young adults can relate to
What made this show so special? Well, what made it special is the fact that it was filmed to entertain kids as they drew important lessons. The show featured animals from all over the world. Not only that but it had an educational twist. If you were lucky enough to live in the US or Canada, then there was a good chance that you caught at least one episode of this show back in its glory days. It's a show that I would highly suggest you watch, because it made a great impact on my childhood.
Zoboomafoo’s lessons about animals
Image Sources: YouTube
The name "Zoboomafoo" is a combination of two words; the first, "zoo" meaning this show is about creatures living in zoos, and the second part, "boomafoo", comes from the Malagasy word "boomalala", which means curiosity. So it means, "Curiosity for animals". The main character on Zoboomafoo is JB (Jorge-Mario Cabrera). In 1999 he was 19 years old and working at a Baltimore zoo when he auditioned for a new children's television series to be called Zoboomafoo. He got the part and was paired up with two ruffed lemurs, Zoboo and Zeebee.
The main animal on the show was ZeeBee, a black-and-white ruffed lemur. Other animals that appeared in the show include Zoboo the chimpanzee, Gorilla, Tiger, Cheetah and Crocodile. The show was designed to help children learn about animals while keeping them entertained. In addition, Zoboomafoo encouraged kids to learn about animals, and taught them a lot about how nature works via their very own interactive program.
Critics of the show: Why the show was canceled
PBS execs praised the show for its high production values and ability to capture the attention of children. Zoboomafoo even got a standing ovation from TV critics at the 2006 BMI Kids' Choice Awards. During one episode, an audience member did not want his daughters watching Zoboomafoo because they were too young. He wanted something with no violence or "sexed-up" images. The host LaTonya MacKenzie gave him one piece of advice: "We try to keep it clean, but you have to know that it is not for little ones. It is not "Sesame Street"."
While Zoboomafoo was cancelled in 2001 due to pressure by animal rights groups, the show returned in 2005 with one new host named Peter Collingwood. However, it was almost cancelled once again when Peter Collingwood left after only a few episodes. It seems that since then the show has been slowly losing its popularity.
In a response to PETA's protests the producers of Zoboomafoo created some episodes that supported animal rights and awareness. One episode features a short documentary called "Zoo Diary", which depicts the life and care of the Madagascar lemurs of the zoo. Collingwood also spoke to the zookeepers at the zoo about how they care for these animals.
On January 27, 2005, Zoboomafoo was aired in the UK on SKY1 inspiring a massive storm of complaints from animal rights groups. In reaction to stiff opposition from animal rights groups that objected to all the scenes in which animals are caged, zoo cages are shown with small glass windows or panes of glass. Zoboomafoo was also broadcast in Israel in January 2006; however, the animal rights groups again complained, both to the Israeli Broadcasting Authority and to the Israeli Minister of Communications. Nevertheless, Zoboomafoo has been the recipient of many awards. In addition to receiving awards, it also has an 80% approval rating on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
Zoboomafoo adult’s enthusiasts
In the late 1990s, many kids were engrossed in the wonderful world of Zoboomafoo. The PBS popular educational show was seen every week on most public channels, and its catchy song will be forever etched into our minds. When the show first aired, I loved it! The theme song was catchy, and I did not get bored of watching the same episodes over and over again! The animals were cute, and I like how they got to interact with each other. Even as an adult, I love this show! I am so entertained by the brothers trying to get Zoboo to come out of his shell on the show. I'm so happy they have been able to keep their career going since the show went off the air. I hope they are still enjoying what they do!
The second season offers its first episode an exclusive look inside Zoboo's home, family, and friends. Mr. Kratt has said before that it is not easy to get non-parental viewers to sit still for 30 minutes long enough to watch a program they may never see again. Zoboo is very fat and well fed. He is scared of other animals because he thinks they will eat him. The Zoboo that lives in the rain forest is a skinnier, less-fed lemur.
I must say that, for an adult audience, this is an incredibly informative and interesting show! The Kratt brothers are absolutely hilarious and so much fun to watch. The lemur is amazing and stays in character very well for such a small role, that of a shy, inexperienced animal from the wild.
How many young people and adults watched this show when it was on the air? I remember being very intrigued when I got to see a close-up of an Asian elephant and a giraffe getting to know each other in a zoo setting! It was adorable. Through this series, I found out that there are many more animals than what we could ever imagine. I learned that different species can actually co-exist and come together in unique relationships.
The program has a lot of information about lemurs and other animals that are living in their natural habitats. I was able to learn about what exactly makes them different from each other and from humans, as well as how they got there.
The show has been off-air for almost two decades, but its legacy lives on today. Zoboomafoo popularity still influences new generations via Internet memes. Some of the insecurities exhibited by the main characters in the show are a reflection of our modern-day society, at home and at the workplace.
The zoo in the series is a place where animals interact instead of roaming around freely in different zoos. This has since become very popular because it allows not only children to learn about different species’ characteristics, but also various family members, including adults, to bond over their passions for these amazing creatures.
Willamette University students from summer 2013 were asked in an informal survey if they remembered this cartoon series. The majority of those who took the survey stated that they did remember Zoboomafoo as kids.
Memories of Zoboomafoo bring on pure nostalgia
Remembering Zoboomafoo, I am noticing that nostalgia is starting to set in. It still feels like yesterday to me and although what happened in the late 90s isn't a big deal anymore, it's all still very nostalgic and something that I enjoy talking about with my friends. When writing about Zoboomafoo and my memories of it, I remember the things that I like to reminisce on when I think of this show. And if you are a late 90s kid, just as I am, you might be able to relate to what I'm saying in this article.
This show was clever, witty, and overall a great learning experience when I was still young. Of course, not all kids learn in the same ways and although I'm not as scientifically inclined as I used to be, this show still left a huge impact on me and made me realize the things that go on in this world and how important it is to cherish what you have.
In the late 90s, I didn't understand a lot about the world but what I understood was Zoboo and his friends were fun and entertaining. They also had many wild adventures together that taught me valuable lessons. The show was an educational cartoon for kids based on real life wildlife. It was very popular and every night my family would watch it together. As a kid, it was an amazing show that I could relate too and make me laugh at how realistic it seemed to me.
Conclusion: What makes the show Zoboomafoo a classic?
Maybe it's the "no-nonsense" dialogue and simple, yet humorous plot. Or maybe it's the sentimentality displayed in most episodes. Some of the lessons learned from the show will never get old. For instance, you should always pay attention to what's happening around you. Focus on the small things in life; the simple things in life are what make up the bulk of our enjoyment and pleasure. Love your family, love your friends and take care of animals; often, we feel that we are too busy to put any focus on them. The truth is, however, that these small things (exercising, spending time with family, enjoying solitude) will pay off huge dividends in terms of fulfillment and contentment.
Regardless of why, what, or how often you have seen Zoboomafoo, there are plenty of positives to take away from this show that you may not have considered before, lessons that you may use in your own life. This, in my considered opinion, is what makes the show a classic.
In summary, Zoboomafoo was, and is still, a fantastic program. It was fun, engaging and educational. Martin and Chris Kratt were smart parents who knew how to communicate with children; never judging them or pushing them in any particular direction. The Kratt brothers were great role models for children back in the day, and I think that this program brought them into the public eye. Zoboomafoo was designed to entertain and educate its viewers.
The show was fun and enjoyable for kids. There are a number of reasons why it was both educative and entertaining for children. These include: being able to develop different personalities; learning about friendship; writing letters with your favorite characters; as well as having episodes that were provocative and exciting for kids at their time of viewing. The show was not just fun and entertaining, but gave a lot of knowledge and learning to the children as well.
One of my favorite part of the show was when they have to go out and find food for their animals’ family because it always has a sort of moral lesson that applies today. For kids in the late 90s this show was a big part of their lives and I personally have many memories of this show. So if there's one thing that you can take from my memories of the show is that life is too short to take things for granted because you never know when they're gone! So cherish what you have and never let go of your dreams.
Zoboo and his friends went on a quest to find food for their animal friend’s family because they were all out of food. This episode always stands out to me because Zoboo and his friends had to go into the woods and fish for their food but when they got back to their house they noticed that it has been destroyed by a storm. As Zoboo and his friends went out to find food, they found a stalk of corn and a knife that was with it.
This episode was very complex because both the stalk of corn and the knife were in different parts of the woods. When I first watched this episode I thought that watching them find pieces of food was a fun adventure but after thinking about it for so long, it makes perfect sense. I realized what a great thing it is to learn from mistakes and how important it is to be grateful for what you have.
Another popular episode in Zoboo's family included an older brother who was jealous that his younger brother could do everything that he couldn't. The older brother would often tease and had no respect for Zoboo at all. One day the two brothers were trying to get something from a tree and in the process, they fell out of a very high tree. When they got back up, Zoboo's older brother was no longer who he was before. Zoboo's brother had learned so much from his mistakes and I realized as I watched this episode how important it is to be open-minded and always trying to learn new things.
Did you watch Zoboomafoo back in the days? How do you remember the show?
RIP: Zoboo (died 2014). You will forever be missed.