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Series / Zoboomafoo

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Me, and you, and Zoboomafoo!
Come along, and see what's new!
We're doing the things that animals do!
Me, and you, and Zoboomafoo!
Come along and see what's new!
At Animal Junction we're waiting for you!

Zoboomafoo is a 1999 educational children's show hosted by Chris and Martin Kratt (of Kratts' Creatures fame), produced by Cinar and distributed by Maryland Public Television for PBS Kids. The Kratt brothers hang out with Zoboomafoo (Zoboo for short), an anthropomorphic Coquerel's sifaka lemur (or rather, a normal lemur who turns anthropomorphic under certain conditions) and play with animals in a fantasy place called Animal Junction. Every episode focuses on a different theme, such as baby animals, pets vs. wild animals, or just a specific type of animal. The episodes are broken up by occasional claymation stories about a place called Zobooland, as well as expeditions where the Kratt brothers leave Animal Junction to see animals in the wild.

It ran for 65 episodes over two seasons from January 25, 1999 to November 21, 2001, with reruns airing nationally until January 16, 2004.

It was followed over a decade later by an animated show called Wild Kratts.

This show contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • The brothers often remind viewers that animals of different species that are shown on Zoboomafoo would never play together in Real Life, but it's possible in Animal Junction.
    • When non-ambulatory animals appear on the show, such as a pair of nurse sharks, it is clear that they did not wander into Animal Junction on their own and that their pool would have had to be set up for them.
    • Lampshaded when a tadpole appears to metamorphosize to a frog in under a minute.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Almost every episode ends with Zoboo leaping back to Madagascar and the Kratts running off to visit some new environment.
  • Amusing Injuries: Usually they happen to the brothers, but sometimes they happen to Zoboo too.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Zoboo's catchphrase "Mangatsika!" is a case of this. The word literally means "cold" in Malagasy (the language spoken in Madagascar), but in the show it's used to mean "cool" as in "interesting". The actual word for "cool!" in Malagasy is "Milay", which is two syllables.
  • Art Evolution: The Zoboo puppet undergoes several notable changes throughout the series, starting off with a squarish head with a lean physique to a cartoonish and circular head and face with bigger eyes (which lose the ability to close) and a more notable mouth and a more hunched and squashed posture, essentially morphing from a mildly stretched version of his real animal species to looking more like a giant furry version of his Zobooland clay model. It's much more poignant when watching the first and last episodes front-to-back, and is an easy indicator aside from the presence of either Jackie or Amy in the "Animal Helpers" segment to tell if an episode was produced towards the end of the show's run.
  • Art Shift: The Who Could it Be? segments are animated in 2D Flash animation, while the Zobooland shorts are animated through Stop Motion claymation.
  • Balloon Belly: In some of Zoboo's stories, this happens to Goobol whenever he eats a whole bunch of Goobolberries.
    • This also happens to Zoboo and both brothers after eating like a bear before hibernation.
  • Cartoon Creature: Most of the Zobooland creatures from Zoboo's stories fall into this trope.
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • "Zoboomafoooooooooo!"
    • "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
    • "Mangatsika!"note 
    • "Leaping lemurs!"
    • "I meant to do that."
    • "Incoming— Duck!!" "That's not a duck..." Sometimes, the second phrase is "Is it a duck?"
    • "I can't believe my mind!"
    • "I don't think so!!!"
    • "Vooky" note 
  • Character Title
  • Crash-Into Hello: With a few exceptions, this is pretty much the only way Zoboo seems to meet anybody in his Zobooland stories.
  • Cute Approaches Camera: In the opening sequence.
  • Cute Kitten: Several episodes feature lynx or bobcat kittens.
  • Cuteness Proximity: The Kratts react this way when they care for baby animals, like bear cubs or puppies.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Viewers are reminded at the end of each episode that not all animals are friendly and to only touch them when an adult says it's OK.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In one episode, the brothers go up in a hot air balloon, but forget the device they need to get down back on the ground.
  • Diurnal Nocturnal Animal: Moonface the barn owl regularly visits Animal Junction during the day. Averted with Zoboo himself — unlike many other lemurs, the sifaka is diurnal.
  • Duck!: Happens Once an Episode when the Messenger Bird of the Day brings a message from the Animal Helpers and Zoboo and the Brothers have to duck out of the way. Subverted sometimes because the messenger bird is a duck!
  • Exploding Closet: Whenever the brothers want to go on an adventure to see the animals in the wild. On the few times they did prepare for the stuff falling out, the closet would respond by... not doing anything. Psych! There was also an episode in which a young girl who was visiting the brothers took something from the closet and nothing happened.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": Zoboo tells the Kratt brothers to call his parents "Zoboo's Mom" and "Zoboo's Dad."
  • Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables: Goobolberries in Zoboo's stories.
  • Free-Range Children: The Animal Helpers.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "Brain Power", when Martin is reading instructions for the invisibility machine, step 8 is "Do The Cha Cha Cha".
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Kratts built (in-universe) several contraptions over the course of the show, including an invisibility machine and artificial wings for Zoboo. Zoboomafoo himself showed a knack for this when he created a machine to communicate with plants, but by chance it never worked while the Kratts were around.
  • I Am Not Weasel: In "Dinosaurs", Zoboo initially thinks a monitor lizard he encountered on his way to Animal Junction is a dinosaur. Later, when an iguana shows up, Zoboo mistakes it for a dinosaur too.
  • Informed Species: Wiggy Waxwing in the "Zobooland" skits looks nothing like an actual waxwing.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Once an Episode a different bird flies into Animal Junction and delivers a message from the Animal Helpers.
  • Lampshade Wearing: Zoboo mistakes a lampshade for a headlamp in one episode.
  • Medium Blending: The Zobooland stories, which are stop-motion animated with clay models. As well as the "Who Could It Be" segments, which are hand-drawn animation.
    • In addition, the episode "Dinosaurs" features animated dinosaurs digitally inserted into the live action environment.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: In the dinosaur episode, the Kratts build a dinosaur skeleton using fake bones from a wide range of different species (Brontosaurus body, Tyrannosaurus rex teeth, Ankylosaurus tail, Triceratops frill, etc.)
  • Mondegreen Gag: "Binturong? I've been to the jungle, and I've been to Animal Junction, but I've never been to Rong. Where's Rong?"
  • Neologism: Once an Episode. "I feel _________ish!"
  • The Nicknamer: Zoboo gives a nickname to almost every animal he meets.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In the goodbye song: This animal is a friend of mine / From the tip of his nose to his funny behind / All the friends we've met today/ Are special in their own way / They've all got different names / But we're really all the same!
  • Once an Episode: The Kratt Brothers being a victim of the Exploding Closet, the Brothers' trip, the Zobooland segments, the message from the Animal Helpers, and Who Could it Be?
  • Percussive Maintenance: Often used on the Snack Machine when it refuses to dispense food. When it finally does get unjammed, it has a tendency to spew food out uncontrollably.
  • Pie in the Face: Martin receives one from a monkey at one point in "Dinosaurs".
  • Precious Puppies: Puppies make many appearances in several episodes.
  • Properly Paranoid: In "Happy Lemur Day" both Martin and Chris have wild hair, which Zoboo happily combs with his teeth since lemur teeth are like tooth combs. To inform other lemurs that it's Lemur Day, the brothers go out, but not before packing tooth combs. While in the jungle, their hair gets messed up again and they have to comb it.
  • Revenge: In one episode, the brothers try to top each other's pranks. After Martin drops ice down Chris's back, for example, Chris responds by replacing Martin's chair with a block of ice. All Played for Laughs of course.
  • Running Gag: The Snack Machine not working and then suddenly dumping tons of food on whoever was fixing it, one or both brothers taking a flying leap and landing in something unpleasant, The Closet exploding on everyone except the Animal Helpers, Zoboo crashing into his Zobooland friends, and "Duck!" "That's not a duck, that's -messenger bird of the day-!" The last is occasionally subverted when the messenger bird does turn out to be a duck!
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the episode Cats: "There's a cat in the hat!"
    • Martin having to feel an elephant while blindfolded can bring to mind the story of the blind men and the elephant. He too initially mistakes its trunk for a snake, until he realizes he feels hair on it.
  • Skewed Priorities: When the Kratt brothers get stranded with seals on an island, due to their raft blowing a hole and a seal taking the patch kit, they at first decide to stay until realizing they'd miss Zoboo. That is not mentioning their families would miss them, and they would have to forage for food and shelter.
  • Slipping into Stink: A running gag involves the Kratt Brothers swinging around on ropes in a lemur-like fashion, only to lose control and fall into a big pile of mud.
  • Stock Footage: Used a lot in both the Animal Junction and in the Zobooland scenes.
  • Stop Motion: The Zobooland segments.
  • Talking Animal: Zoboo, but only after he's fed. Apparently his speech abilities wear off overnight. This gets reflected by him being represented by an actual lemur when he can't speak, and then a puppet when he can.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Both brothers have their own food slots in the Snack Machine. One slot dispenses spaghetti, the other pizza.
    • Also, in Zoboo's stories, Goobol, Zoboo's friend absolutely loves filling his Goobol belly with Goobolberries.
  • Unsound Effect:
    • "I was leaping along— leap... leap... leap...
    • In the episode Animal Daycare: I was sleeping along— sleep... sleep... sleep...
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?:
    • Animal Junction doesn't really seem to be anywhere. The theme song claims Zoboo and other animals led them to it, so it seems it's some kind of natural location they all migrate to, though then the question is who built the place. (In reality, it was a set built at the lemur center of Duke University in North Carolina. Yes, the same Duke involved in the famous college basketball rivalry.)
    • Wherever the Kratts travel to always appears to be right next door to Animal Junction.
    • Zobooland might be in Madagascar, given Zoboo has once or twice expressed having to return to it, but its geography and wildlife certainly doesn't match it.
  • Who's on First?: Occurs in this exchange from "Snow Day", before the Once an Episode "Who Could It Be?" segment...
    Zoboo: Who?
    Chris: What?
    Zoboo: No, WHO.
    Martin: Who?
    Zoboo: Yeah, WHO!
    Chris: What are you so happy about?
    Zoboo: No, not "yahoo"! But "who"! Who could it be?

This animal is a friend of mine
With the tip of his nose to his funny behind
All the friends that we met today
Are special in their own way

We've all got different names
But we're really all the same
Thanks for droppin' by
We're glad you came

These animals are friends of mine
They jump and swing, crawl, fly and climb
One more thing we have to say...
Go make an animal friend today! Yeah!



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