Jake: He's Canadian! (He's also a perverted pig with delusions of grandeur, and expects he'll be humping Minou before the end of the first episode.)
Minou: a Jamaican panther and former super model, she's willing to work the camera, and possibly the man behind the camera to win.
Morreski: a drunken Russian bear; he's lived a full and complex live, if only he can remember any of it.
Ray: an orangutan and total party animal.
Rico: a Colombian crocodile, and fits every gay stereotype in the book.
Claude: a vulture and the first host of Life's a Zoo.tv. Many of the challenges he exposed the houseguests to are outright cruel, like a 6-day long sleep deprivation challenge; he's later reading a book which says 7-days is life threatening, and throws the book away.
Bobbie: a seal and second host of the show. After Claude is thrown out by the houseguests, Bobbie takes over, intent on running the show properly, and interacts more directly with the houseguests. She may seem nicer than Claude, but when she is willing to throw them out of a real airplane (which Claude only faked), it seems that she's actually much worse.
The announcer: named "Daryl" in the last episode, he does some voice overs for the show, and was heard interviewing Rico in his audition.
Alien Abduction: When Claude trapped everyone in the "Amazing Maze", Ray believes he's been abducted by aliens; at first he thought it was awesome, until he figured that: Alien Abduction = Anal Probe.
Amusing Injuries: Pretty much everyone gets injured during the course of the show, especially Ray. Subverted with Minou, who ends up in a body cast, and remains in it for the rest of the show.
An Aesop: a recurring theme is that the challenges Claude and Bobbie put the houseguests through are actually to teach them a lesson and make them better people; not all of them, some of them are just the hosts being jerks.
A couple of these become Broken Aesops, like the niceness challenge, which didn't distinguish between being nice and pretending to be nice.
Animal Stereotypes: Played straight with Chi Chi, Claude, Dewey Dewson, Jake, Minou, Morreski, and Ray; subverted with Bobbie, Doctor D. and Rico.
Bad Liar: When Chi Chi appears to be pregnant, Morreski and Ray admit that they might be the father; Jake also admits to it, not because he might be, but because being the father of her child would mean they had sex, which they didn't. Also, while footage of Morreski and Ray making out with Chi Chi is played during their confessions, Jake lampshades it by saying they're probably showing a video of them right now, but there is no such video.
Break the Cutie: Chi Chi, after she realizes how badly the show corrupted her.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: In one episode, Ray makes a mention of the DVD version of Life's a Zoo.tv, and how he's doing voice over commentary on it; that very voice over comes on and tells Ray he's about to get totally screwed over by Jake in the next scene.
Seriously, the final episode of the first season demolishes the wall.
Canada, Eh?: Mostly subverted; though the setting is in Saskatchewan, and Jake is Canadian, there are few stereotypically Canadian shenanigans going on.
Casanova Wannabe: Jake talks big, but evidence suggests he's never been with a real woman.
Cats Are Mean: Minou, though her treatment of Jake is very justified; she actually wins a niceness challenge, which says a lot about everyone else.
Censor Box: Jake gets a growing box to the disgust of Doctor D. and Minou.
Citizenship Marriage: Or more specifically, a marriage to avoid being extincted: Chi Chi, Jake, Ray and Rico were left, and two of them had to get married to avoid being extincted; Chi Chi held marriage as more sacred than that and refused to get married, and completely heterosexual Jake and Ray had no intention on marrying Camp Gay Rico, who they feared would abuse the scenario, so they married each other!
Cold Open: All episodes had an introduction, usually given by Claude or Bobbie.
Compressed Vice: Doctor D. and Rico were shown to be addicted to cigars and coffee respectively, though neither was shown as an explicit addiction until the Going Cold Turkey episode.
Cordon Bleugh Chef: Chi Chi and Rico took part in a cook-off, where the ingredients were chosen by the other houseguests; since Chi Chi and Rico would have to eat it, the others chose the nastiest things they could think of: liverwurst, toothpaste, chili peppers, mystery liquid (see below), and some "fresh herbs".
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Doctor D., no really. Subverted in that Doctor D. is the badass, but in reality he's a nerdy shoe salesman named Dewey Dewson, but wanted to become a gangster rap star, and became Doctor D. When the deception is revealed, he goes back to being Dewey, until someone hits his Berserk Button, playing the trope straight.
Crying Wolf: When Doctor D. discovers Bobbie's deeply hidden secrets, she outs him as a nerdy, shoe selling, rap-star wannabe fraud, and invokes this trope saying that nothing he says should be trusted.
Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: When Jake goes crazy and pulls pranks on the others, Minou, Morreski and Rico make various declarations of how they'll torture and kill him.
Deadpan Snarker: Minou, especially when Claude was pulling some stupid stunt on the houseguests.
Death By Genre Savviness: In the first episode, Claude has everyone jump out of a plane, but it turns out the plane is fake, as it would be too expensive, and they would get sued for having inexperienced sky-divers jumping out of a real plane. When Bobbie takes over, she repeats the plane stunt, but Minou wants no part of it and walks off; right before Bobbie reveals it's a real plane.
Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Doctor D. was a shoo-in for the talent show, but he was pegged to go last, and was worried that the others would turn off the audience before he could hit the stage; so he and Rico, as his manager, sabotage everyone else. Chi Chi was royally pissed at not getting to finish, so she rushes the stage during Doctor D's performance, gets into a rapping duel with him, and proceeds to lay a serious beat down on his ass.
Dramatic Thunder: Happens when Bobbie lays down the law. Parodied when she claims it's a gift she has, followed with more Dramatic Thunder; that one was a fluke.
Drugs Are Bad: Jake suffered an overdose on various minor substances like alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, which he was using as a replacement for his addiction to sex.
At least two times we see that sleeping pills should not be mixed with alcohol, the second time caused Chi Chi to lose her memory.
Minou was using anti-depressants to win a niceness contest, and it was definitely affecting her by the end of the episode.
Easy Amnesia: Thanks to a combination of alcohol and sleeping pills, Chi Chi falls unconscious, and awakens the next day with no memories.
Egg Sitting: Bobbie has the houseguests perform an egg sitting challenge for Mother's Day.
Jake realizes that the point of the competition is not who takes better care of their egg, it's whose egg cracks first, and gets to work trying to sabotage everyone else.
Embarrassing Cover Up: Chi Chi walks in on Jake when he's trying to rig an Internet poll for the show by voting for himself, and Chi Chi thinks that he's "sexing computer".
Another time Ray claims to be "downloading some internet porn" to cover the fact that he's selling Chi's belongings online.
Expansion Pack Past: Morreski was once a mechanical engineer, a doctor, a ship's captain, and is ordained to perform weddings. After leaving the show, he is shown being a postman, a sandwich artist, a door-to-door window salesman, and a referee for women's wrestling.
Explosion Propulsion: Morreski builds a still when his vodka is confiscated by Claude; at the end of the episode, it explodes, sending Jake flying though the roof.
Fake Out Opening: Episode 12 had one which shows Life's a Zoo.tv as a much different show than the normal reality show it is. A lampshade gets hung on it when we switch to the houseguests watching the phony promo, and Ray comments on how cool that show looks.
Episode 13 had a slightly subtler example, which was a normal intro by Claude, but had segments that were not actually in the show.
Forgotten Birthday: Justified in that since none of the characters knew each other before hand, no one knew when Chi Chi's birthday was; although it still ends up being one of the worst days of her life, and all attempts to tell the others it's her big day go unnoticed or are interrupted.
Funny Animal: Everyone on screen, though they live in a human world; the voice over guy is apparently human.
Hit Me Dammit: When the houseguests are turned into cartoon characters, Ray tells the others to punch him, stab him and blow him up, demonstrating how cartoon characters are invincible; he regrets it when he's smashing his head with a frying pan as he changes back to normal.
Hold Up Your Score: Rico holds up a "10" after he does a dance number, and catches Morreski in his arms.
Idiot Ball: If there was such a thing, Ray would have it Krazy Glued to his ass.
Morreski really got this hard when the houseguests were trapped in the maze that was closing in on them, they figure out that the walls close in when they get angry or mistreat each other; Morreski says he realized the maze was responding to their negative emotions a long time ago, but he didn't tell them because they were too stupid. Oops!
If I Can't Have You: When Chi Chi wins the mansion, sore loser Jake takes off and sets up a bomb to destroy the mansion; the joke's on him when Chi Chi forfeits the mansion, and Jake takes off in a mad dash to stop the bomb. He can't stop the fuse, so he rushes everyone else out before the mansion goes BOOM!
A lesser example happens when Morrseki wins a Plot Coupon for a free picnic, while Claude locks the fridge, leaving everyone hungry. Minou goes to Morreski's room to steal the coupon, but Morreski catches her, so she throws a nearby bottle of (what else?) vodka at him, and it destroys the coupon.
In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You: When Morreski was abducted and put in the maze, he comments that abductions happen all the time back home; at one point his uncle Alexsi abducted himself, but he refused to pay himself his ransom, so he cut off his own thumbs. Way to go Alexsi!
Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Jake, the only reason anyone could possibly like him is because he's so pathetic. Considering almost everything he's done to Minou counts as sexual harassment or assault, from peeping on her in her shower, to sneaking into her bath with a camera*
The revelation that the show was scripted, and Jake wasn't in full control of his actions only mitigates it, as it was only exaggerating his negative traits; after the Deflanderization, he is still clearly a perverted loser.
Intoxication Ensues/Mushroom Samba: To win a niceness challenge, Minou takes anti-depressants, and eventually eats the whole bottle. First she starts hallucinating, thinking a plant is Chi Chi, and starts eating wallpaper *
actually she was only licking it
; then she talks to people with a sunny polite disposition whether she's insulting or complimenting them.
Jake had a Mushroom Samba when he suffered from extreme sleep deprivation, believing a papaya was a living being that was in love with him, and everyone else was conspiring to take her away from him.
Ironic Hell: When Jake wakes up in Claude's maze, he notices the all-white walls and believes he's in Heaven; but noting the lack of certain things like "topless angels", he believes that he is actually in Hell.
Irony: Some of the contestants were extincted in competitions where they should have had the advantage.
Chi Chi won the right to choose who gets extincted, but she chooses herself.
Minou lost a weight loss challenge.
Extra irony because Jake was planting chocolate around the house to sabotage everyone else, and it worked on the one opponent he didn't want extincted.
Doctor D. lost a musical talent competition.
Chi Chi lost a niceness challenge; the truly ironic part is that she loses her temper because she gets fed up with everyone else's (especially Minou's) faking.
Rico lost an interior design challenge.
Ray won it by not competing, instead he went nuts and redecorated a room in his own insane way as a Take That to the whole contest.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ray, more of a juvenile goof-off than a jerk, but has put himself on the line to help the others, such as leaping into action to stop Jake from jumping to his death; although, in that case he was trying to push a bed with Doctor D. lying on it to break Jake's fall, and missed.
Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Jake convinced the others to make a sit-com, saying it would benefit all of them; but he makes himself the main character, and may have done it for the sole purpose of getting Minou to give him a back rub and say "you're my daddy".
Jerkass: Almost everybody, but dishonorable mention goes to Jake and the hosts.
Joker Immunity: Letting any of the characters go would ruin the dynamic, so none of the eliminations done during Claude's run stuck; and there were no long term consequences, like jail time, for any of the blatantly illegal things going on.
Missing Episodes: After coming off hiatus, Teletoon aired episodes 14-20; after that, they have gone back to episodes 1-13, and have not reaired the last seven episodes. The iTunes store only lists the first 13 episodes. All the episodes are available in DVD sets, but have only been released in Australia, a PAL region.
Momma's Boy: Doctor D. it becomes more pronounced when he reverts to Dewey Dewson..
Mood Swinger: The point of the niceness challenge wasn't who's the nicest, it's who can keep from totally losing their temper, leading to most of the houseguests getting angry, stopping before they go too far, and acting overly nice to make up for their outburst.
The Mourning After: Jake was completely heartbroken when he thought Minou was dead, until he laid eyes on Bobbie. Subverted as this is Jake we're talking about here; he really only mourned Minou because she was the only hot female on the show, once Bobbie showed up, Minou was nothing special, as well as (presumed) dead.
Ms. Fanservice: Minou has not done anything about the cameras in her bathroom.
My God, What Have I Done?: Happens to Chi Chi, twice: one when she sees how the show has corrupted her, she throws away her immunity and extincted herself; and two when she won the mansion, she forfeits it.
Nailed To The Wagon: Happens to the entire cast in "Self Helpless" when all the housemates are forcibly deprived of their addictive vices.
Averted in the second episode when Jake goes crazy and annoys the others to the point that Minou, Morreski and Rico want to kill him.
Inverted in that the show uses the term "extincted" (death of a species) to refer to (non-lethal) elimination from the show.
Non-Mammal Mammaries: Subverted in that the three main females are mammals, but have no visible mammaries due to the art style, and the only one with visible breasts (and nipples) is—horrifyingly—Jake.
Played straight with Doctor D.'s mother, complete with Gainaxing, as well as...
Non-Mammalian Hair: Most of the characters are mammals, but any hair is very human like, not just extra long fur.
Subverted and played straight with Minou; she has hair but it's actually a series of wigs, but there are traces that she used to have hair, possibly losing it due to her bulimia.
Occasionally Chi Chi wears a wig, but otherwise has no hair.
Bobbie has a full head of hair.
Chi Chi's father has black hair, while Ray's father has a long beard, but in his case it could pass as extra long fur.
The straightest example is Doctor D.'s mother, she's a penguin with curly brown hair.
Not Quite Dead: The last episode has a segment called "Not Dead Yet", which showed what each of the extincted houseguests were doing in the intervening weeks; significant for Minou and Rico who were badly injured when they were extincted.
The Not Secret: The winner of Life's a Zoo.tv is chosen by a vote of the losers, who have to choose between ChiChi and Jake. We see them making their votes, and the name of who they vote for is bleeped out to maintain the secret, but it's obvious who they are voting for.
The only one who isn't bleeped out is Minou, who is now The Unintelligible due to her full body cast that also covers her mouth; but it's still obvious who she's voting for, even if Morreski doesn't.
Not What it Sounds Like: Doctor D. once passed Minou's room hearing Morreski telling her to hold the shaft firmly and make a tight seal with her lips; he was actually giving her flute playing lessons.
Only One Name: Almost everyone is known only by their first names; Jake reveals his last name is Oswald or Oswalt (the closed captioning says "Oswald". The Other Wiki says "Oswalt").
Bobbie's real name is Cassandra Zimmerman.
Doctor D.'s real name is Dewey Dewson.
Out-of-Genre Experience: When Claude blows the budget on a big advertising campaign, the show needs to cut back, and changes to a 2D animated cartoon; and when a new sponsor is found, it changes to a home and garden show.
Parental Incest: When the houseguests take over the show, Jake comes up with the idea of making a sit-com, with himself as the father, and Minou as his "hot adopted teenage daughter"; while Minou agrees with the characterization, she is disgusted by the suggestive dialog.
Reality TV Show Mansion: The houseguests are trying to win said elaborate mansion, which has a main hallway with two twisting staircases; several bedrooms, some with their own bathroom; a stocked bar in the TV room; a swiming pool; a billiard room; a spa and casino, which the houseguests were not told about until the very end; hidden rooms and passageways with a hidden treasure; A TV studio; a complicated maze in the basement; and an elevator with a death trap in it.
Really Gets Around: While it's suggested that Minou is the type to sleep her way to the top, she is only shown using her feminine wiles twice; once on Morreski, and once, which led to actual sex, on Chi Chi. When she achieved celebrity status, Chi Chi became this, until her My God, What Have I Done? moment.
Refuge in Audacity: This whole show probably counts, as most of you probably wouldn't believe half of anything on this page unless you saw it yourself; otherwise, Jake.
Released To Elsewhere: When asked what happened to Claude, Bobbie says he took another job offer; while she might be hinting that he was fired, Claude didn't like the job, and with the houseguests revolting, he might have quit.
Rich Bitch: When Minou first arrived, despite getting the best room *
(possibly in all of Saskatchewan)
, she rants how it is still beneath her.
In the "Not Dead Yet" segment, the announcer explicitly stated that Minou was on the show because every show needs a "glamorous bitch", and she didn't disappoint.
Sadist Show: If it wasn't for Chi Chi, this would fit perfectly.
Series Continuity Error: A sub plot for the musical competition episode is that Minou has no musical talent, and spends the episode trying to learn anything so she can perform, and settles on playing the flute; a previous episode shows that she already knew how to play the flute.
Shout Out: The fake opening for episode 12 contains several movie parodies.
Rocky Horror Picture Show: Ray bursts out of the kitchen cupboards on his motorcycle.
Soldier: Morreski tells Minou he is going to "kill them all!"
Campbell's Chunky Soup: Ray can't decide between a fork and a spoon.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Rico runs from an enormous Chi Chi who is rolling down the hallway.
Basic Instinct: Being interrogated by Jake and Ray, Minou crosses and uncrosses her legs.
Sketch Comedy: Episode 14 devolves into this, at least until Bobbie comes in to get the show back on track.
Snapback: During Claude's run, none of the eliminations stuck.
Sound Effect Bleep: When everyone (except Chi Chi) is trapped in the maze, they let out a "What The F..." before being cut off by Chi Chi's oven timer.
Spot the Imposter: Morreski or No Morreski, a game show where each of the contestants is trying to convince Claude that they are Morreski.
Jake wins, beating the real Morreski, convincing even Morreski's own mother that he is "Morreski".
And so the house goes to... Ray, who bet $100 on a 48,000:1 long shot that Jake would win, and used his money to rebuild the mansion and host his own TV show.
Time Passes Montage: When Chi Chi extincts herself, Ray goes into shock over losing his girlfriend and lies on the couch in the fetal position, while the camera shows Rico cleaning, a New Year's Eve party, Doctor D. and Jake playing basketball, and Jake, Minou and Rico playing music. Afterwards, Ray grows a long beard.
Morreski then reveals it's only been 10 minutes, and Ray is wearing a fake beard.
Title Drop: Being a fake reality show, the hosts do it all the time.
When the show was down to Chi Chi, Jake and Ray; Chi Chi had immunity, so Bobbie let her decide who gets extincted, by way of a three-way date.
Tsundere: If you're on her good side, Bobbie is warm and pleasant; otherwise she's cold and heartless.
Twist Ending: during Claude's run of the show, the entire thing was scripted, EVERYTHING, right down to the exact lines the houseguests were saying. Ray discovered the secret control room, and when Jake tears up the script, he frees everyone from the control, and they take over the show; Claude is kicked out as host, and the houseguests try to write a new ending. Eventually, a new host takes over, Bobbie, and tries to run Life's a Zoo.tv, correctly.
Uncancelled: On Teletoon, the show was on hiatus in between episodes 13 and 14, which also divides when Claude and Bobbie hosted the show; as a result, some consider it as two separate seasons, with Claude hosting the first season (episodes 1-13) and Bobbie hosting season 2 (14-20).
It also doesn't help that the iTunes store lists the first 13 episodes as Season 1.
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: When everyone else gets sick from eating Chi Chi's soup, Jake makes the greediest demands on an overworked Chi Chi; but when she leaves his room, it's clear that he isn't sick at all.