Wild Kratts is an American/Canadian children's animated television series created by zoologists Chris Kratt and Martin Kratt, and produced by their company, Kratt Brothers Company, along with 9 Story Entertainment. The series centers around the adventures of the Kratt brothers, Chris and Martin Kratt, and fellow teammates Aviva, Koki, and Jimmy Z, who travel to animal habitats across the globe to learn more about animals while also performing "creature rescues", in which they save the animals and their habitats from various dilemmas. Their adventures often involve mystery, discovery, and rescue in a comedic tone, all while educating children about zoology- and ecology-related science concepts, and sometimes how they relate to other branches of science.
Wild Kratts was based on the Kratt brothers' previous shows, which included Kratts' Creatures, Zoboomafoo, and Be the Creature, all of which were mainly live-action. The series first aired on PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go! on January 3, 2011, with the episodes "Mom of a Croc" and "Whale of a Squid". As of April 15th, 2019 the show is currently airing its sixth season, which began with the episode "Mystery of the Flamingo's Pink".
The show has been a Daytime Emmy nominee for three consecutive years for "Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program" and "Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series". As of November 25, 2014, Wild Kratts is the number one most watched show on all PBS stations across viewers ages four to 11.
Wild Kratts is also the first show to win the first-ever Shaw Rocket Fund Kids' Choice Award at the Canadian Screen Awards on May 20, 2021.
Chris and Martin Kratt's fascination with wildlife started in their hometown of Warren Township, New Jersey. They would pick up various animals they found in their backyard, and keep orphaned animals as pets. Later, Chris graduated from Carleton College with a Bachelor's in Biology, while Martin graduated from Duke University with a degree in Zoology.
Their real inspiration for starting a children's series came from their experience while filming wildlife in Costa Rica. It was at this time, according to what Martin explicitly stated in an interview, that they realized: "Hey, there are no wildlife shows for kids". In 1993, they founded Kratt Brothers Company. They combined the videos they made while in Costa Rica, along with videos they filmed in Madagascar and the Amazon, and created The Kratt Brothers' Amazon Adventure. It was a success, winning an award at the International Wildlife Film Festival. Later, they pitched the film to various broadcasters, hopping to make it into a children's series. This caught the attention of Alice Cahn of PBS, and in 1996, Kratts' Creatures, the first daily wildlife TV show made specifically for kids in the United States, first aired. It was followed by Zoboomafoo in 1999 and Be the Creature in 2003. These live-action shows, starring the Kratt brothers, introduced viewers to hundreds of different animals.
However, the Kratt brothers could only film and study animals that were in their reach. To teach these animals to children as if the animals were right in front of them, the Kratt brothers came up with an animated series, where the animated versions of themselves can venture with such animals. "The reason we decided to do Wild Kratts is because, in our early expeditions, no matter how long we spent in the wild we knew there were animal behaviours we could never film," Martin said. "So we thought if we could design an animated show we could show anything. We could show sperm whales fighting giant squid 6,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Suddenly the entire creature world was open to us. That was the real motivation to do animation."
Production and development
Wild Kratts has four executive producers. Series creator Chris Kratt has served as executive producer for the entire course of the series, while his brother Martin Kratt served the same position since season 2. The other two are Vince Commisso and Steven Jarosz, who served for the entire course of the series, and are also the two founders of 9 Story Entertainment, one of the series' production companies.
Wild Kratts has had three episode directors: creators Chris Kratt and Martin Kratt, and Luc Chamberland. However, Chamberland has only directed one episode; "Polar Bears Don't Dance", which was the first episode produced for the series. The Kratt brothers, on the other hand, have been involved with the directing of all the other episodes.
Over the course of the series, Wild Kratts has had four episode writers: creators Chris Kratt and Martin Kratt, plus Eva Almos and Chris Roy. Almos and Roy have only written Season 1 episodes thus far. The rest of the series has only been written by the Kratt brothers.
The first step the writers do before drafting an episode's script is figuring out the episode's subject animals or ecological processes, some of which come from the show's viewers, who want their favorite animals to be featured in an episode. After they are picked, the writers begin drafting the scripts. Research is often done to find more about the subject. Martin remarked in an interview that "it's been really fun to write scripts for the show."
The animation of Wild Kratts is all done at 9 Story Entertainment's studios in Toronto, Canada. It takes 30 people to animate one episode, and a few dozen more to work on the backgrounds and storyboards. Wild Kratts is animated using Toon Boom Harmony software, while the backgrounds are done in Adobe Photoshop.
The Kratt brothers describe the series' animation as "minimalistic". They say that the animation style was influenced by the art of American illustrator Charley Harper, while the contrast between the background and the characters was influenced by the Cartoon Network series Samurai Jack.
In addition to the cartoon sequence, Wild Kratts has a portion of live-action. The Kratt brothers and their camera crew head to an actual location to do the filming. Many live-action clips are featured in the animated segments.
Plot and show format
Wild Kratts is both animated and live-action. The first segment of each episode is live-action. In the segment, the Kratt brothers introduce background information about the focus animals, behaviors, and/or ecological processes. They then ask the audience a "What if?" question which sets up the cartoon segment. Afterwards, a concluding live-action segment sums up the cartoon. The last segment is then followed by additional clips about other animals that may or may not relate to the focus subject.
As per the cartoon segment, the Kratt brothers, Chris Kratt and Martin Kratt, along with fellow teammates Aviva, Koki, and Jimmy Z (collectively known as the Wild Kratts) travel around the world to learn about its various habitats and the animals that live in those habitats. While doing so, the team often has to save animals from the situations they get themselves into, like getting caught by one of the show's recurring villains, ending up separated from their parents, or losing their habitats. Some episodes aim to change the way a creature is seen — creatures that are usually considered frightening, such as bats and crocodiles. The Wild Kratts team also occasionally enlists children called "Wild Kratts kids", who help the Wild Kratts from their home however they can.
Wild Kratts is heavily characterized by technology. The devices most often used are the Creature Power Suits, vests created by Wild Kratts crew member Aviva that allow a user to materialize a suit that has a certain creature's abilities, and sometimes its behavior. To use a Creature Power Suit, a user inserts a disc containing a creature's DNA in code into a slot behind the Suit's main button. Afterwards, the user must obtain an actual DNA sample from the same creature, which is often as simple as touching the creature. Once that is done, the user presses the main button, activating the Suit. To turn off, or deactivate the Suit, the user only needs to press the main button and will return back to human form. The inconsistency with the way the Power Suits work and their sensitivity has been played for laughs in several episodes.
The Wild Kratts travel around the world in the Tortuga HQ, a turtle-shaped aircraft which serves as their base of operations. Towering in size, the Tortuga (occasionally referred to as "turtle ship") provides the team with shelter, housing their laboratory along with their other inventions. Other forms of technology the Wild Kratts use include the Createrra VX, a jeep-like vehicle with James Bond-style transformations; Buzz Bikes, firefly-themed motorcycles that hover; the teleporter, which is used to diver equipment to the Kratt brothers while they are on their missions; and the Miniaturizer, a portable device that shrinks its users so they can venture with creatures at a small scale.
On July 5th, 2021, an interview with Variety lead to a brief announcement that a feature-length film based on the series is in production. It will mark the first theatrical production made by the Kratt brothers as well as their first theatrical appearance.
Two stage shows based on the series had premiered worldwide, which featured the Kratt brothers leaping out of the animation, transitioning into live action.
The first tour involved the Kratt Brothers rescuing the Miniaturizer from their nemesis, Zach Varmitech, while the second show featured the Kratt Brothers minaturizing down and rescuing their Creature Power Disks from the Zachbots.
- Chris Kratt (voiced by himself): Chris is one of the two Kratt brothers, and is characterized by the color green. He is the more methodical of the two, and likes to take his time and think of a plan before taking action. Chris is an experienced climber.
- Martin Kratt (voiced by himself): Martin is the elder of the two Kratt brothers, and is characterized by the color blue. More of the jokester of the two, he is rushing, impulsive, and a little disorganized, but knows when to be serious. In contrast to his brother's climbing skills, Martin is an experienced swimmer.
- Aviva Corcovado (voiced by Athena Karkanis): Aviva is a Hispanic woman, and the leader of the crew, second-in-command to Chris and Martin. She is an engineer and an inventor and designs all of the equipment the Wild Kratts use, which is usually nature inspired. Once she has made up her mind, it takes appealing to her emotions and overwhelming evidence to change it.
- Koki (voiced by Sabryn Rock, formerly Heather Bambrick): Koki is an African American woman who manages the communication system of the Tortuga, keeping in touch with Chris and Martin throughout their missions and researching animals for them. She also receives signals from other people who want to communicate with the Wild Kratts. She is not afraid to speak her mind and tell the truth as she sees it.
- Jimmy Z (voiced by Jonathan Malen): Jimmy is a Caucasian man, whose main job is piloting the Tortuga HQ, the Wild Kratts' mobile headquarters. His other job is operating the ship's teleporter, which is used to deliver equipment to the Kratt brothers with the help of his videogame controller, an item which he is extremely attached to. He sometimes helps Aviva by helping her work on her inventions or serving as a lab rat. He is often unsure about animals, so he asks the rest of the Wild Kratts crew to clarify for him.
To show that teamwork and science always prevail, Wild Kratts features villainous characters that do not apply an "inquiry-based approach to life and learning". The Kratt brothers describe the show's villains as characters that "have different kinds of villainous endeavors that kind of get animals in jeopardy". The most prominently featured villain is robotics inventor Zach Varmitech. Fashion designer Donita Donata and her henchman, Dabio, are the second most recurring villains, with Chef Gourmand being the third. However, the villains do not appear in all of the episodes. As of the Season 4 episode, Spirit Bear, the show has introduced new villains; Paisley Paver, and her henchman Rex, both of whom serve as the quarternary antagonists of the series.
- Zachary Varmitech (voiced by Zachary Bennett): Zachary "Zach" Varmitech is a businessman, CEO, and President of Varmitech Industries. A fairly wealthy robotics inventor, he has a rivalry with Aviva and to an extent, the Kratt brothers, whom he grew up with. Proclaiming himself to the world's greatest mind, Zach often attempts to steal the Wild Kratts' technology and turn animals into robots to use in his various schemes. Zach is portrayed as very comically. As a running gag, he refers to the Wild Kratts as the "Wild Rats", with the Wild Kratts usually correcting him.
- Donita Donata (voiced by Eva Almos): Donita is a fashion designer, and is always setting trends. She uses a paralyzing beam to freeze animals alive in order to sell them as pieces of jewelry or clothing. While shown to be tech savy (capable of hacking into the Wild Kratts' computers), she is highly impatient, easily angered and frustrated, especially around her henchman, Dabio.
- Dabio (voiced by Cory Doran): Dabio is Donita Donata's henchman. He is treated like a servant, and often fails in the simplest of tasks. He is also unintelligent, and due to it, he is extremely patient and cheerful, even under Donita's dictating ways.
- Gaston Gourmand (voiced by Zachary Bennett): Chef Gaston Gourmand is a traveling chef that speaks with a heavy Southern accent. Skilled in the wild, Gourmand hunts for wild animals, particularly those deemed rare or endangered, to make into various dishes; for which reason he lost his gourmet chef's license. He has a strong but dark sense of humor, and enjoys getting the Wild Kratts to suffer through the situations he brings them into.
- Paisley Paver (voiced by Julie Lemieux); Paisley is the newest villain to appear in Wild Kratts, debuting in the Season 4 episode, Spirit Bear serving as the main antagonist of the episode along with her henchmen Rex. She is a businesswoman, CEO, and President of Pave Nature Incorporated. As her company's name suggests, Paisley seeks to "pave over" nature. She relies on her henchman, Rex, to run her fleet of paving machines. She is the first and only villain whose schemes don't primarily target animals, as a running occurrence in the show is that she finds them as a roadblock on her plans of habitat destruction. She will, however, capture animals if it means getting the out of the way or furthering her plans to pave.
- Rex (voiced by Cory Doran): Rex is Paisley Paver's henchmen, who, along with Paisley, debut in Season 4, in the episode Spirit Bear, with Rex serving as the secondary antagonist of the episode. Rex is ecstatic about paving using Paisley's machines and will not be hesitant to follow along with her plans proving him to be a more competent sidekick of that than Dabio or the Zachbots.