Jovian, Pioneer TV Star and Lemur, Dies at 20

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

In 1999, Zoboomafoo graced television screens in kitchens and playrooms across the globe. The titular protagonist, Zoboomafoo, was sometimes portrayed by a real lemur, and other times by an anthropomorphic puppet. On Monday, that real lemur, specifically a Coquerel’s sifaka named Jovian, passed away from kidney failure at the Duke Lemur Center.  He was 20 years old. (The whereabouts of the puppet are unknown.)

Chris and Martin Kratt, human hosts of Zoboomafoo, selected Jovian as the show’s star after a competitive audition process. The show continues to air in syndication in the US and Canada.

Many of us remember Jovian for his passion for education and plantains. Jovian’s recent death has reminded us of times gone by when we would shout out wrong answers to the mystery animal segment, sing along to the theme song (“Me! And you! And Zoboomafoo!”), and belligerently correct our parents on the difference between lemurs and monkeys.

It is worth noting that on average, lemurs in captivity have a lifespan of 25 years. With Jovian’s lifespan of 20 years, he lived approximately .8 lemur lives, or, in human years, to 63.

It’s also worth noting that Jovian was close in age to many of us. Think about what Jovian did in his life, and now think about your own life.

Jovian is survived by his mate Pia, seven children, four grandchildren (with two more on the way), and his brother, Julian.

Featured image courtesy of http://galleryhip.com/zoboomafoo-pbs.html.

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