Zoobilee Zoo was a children’s television program featuring costumed performers dressed as animal characters. Instead of full costumes or suits that covered their faces, the actors wore latex appliances and wigs with ears so that the human face was still visible. The main animal lineup featured Mayor Ben(played by Ben Vereen), who watched over his town of “Zoobles”,mainly Bill Der Beaver,Bravo Fox,Van Go Lion,Lookout Bear,Whazzat Kangaroo, and Talkatoo Cockatoo.Each Zooble character had some sort of “gimmick”, such as Lookout being an adventurer, Van Go an artist,and Bill an inventor. In the course of an episode, a character would face some everyday problem common to young children, and the characters’ special traits gave each of them their own unique view on the problem and how to deal with it.
The show aired from 1986–1987 on mostly public television stations, and there were only 65 episodes. The original 65 episodes are currently owned by Hallmark. At the time of this writing I’m wondering if it’s out on DVD; it was a very different show and had that terrific “eighties” feel. And while it was still fun and silly and loaded with bright color and music, it’s still pretty peaceful compared to some of the attention-deficit fare on TV today. In looking for info about this program, I’ve come across people who say it gave them nightmares because of the freaky animal/human faces, and some call it pretty boring and predictable if you are a viewer over the age of four. I have to admit, I enjoyed it being part of the afternoon lineup of cartoons and kid shows I’d watch while doing my homework in the afternoon,even though I do agree that some of the costumes were a bit bizarre. I think it was Talkatoo Cockatoo’s beak that freaked me out a little…the actress (who I thought was very cute atbeing a cockatoo, incidentally) had a prosthetic beak stuck on her nose, but she still had a fully visible human mouth. With lipstick.That did irk me a lot. And Whazzat Kangaroo looks nothing like a kangaroo. Period. Bravo Fox was my favorite; he seemed to definitely be a sort of old-school, vaudeville-type actor and I liked his almost Ed Wynn delivery of his lines.
Here’s the opening theme: