Several Wuzzles in a publicity shot.


Original Medium: TV Animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1985
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For decades, The Walt Disney Company has been a leader in most areas of animation. But it took until 1985 for them to even enter …

continued below

… one particular area, that of television animation. It was on September 14 of that year that they launched Gummi Bears on NBC and The Wuzzles on CBS.

The Wuzzles was aimed at very young viewers — even younger than the target audience of most TV animation. Partly for that reason and partly because of the atmosphere of the times (parent action groups, which generally abhored all but the mildest conflict, were very powerful in setting the tone of 1980s TV cartoons), stories tended to be sweet and gentle, with everyone getting along nicely.

The setting of the series was the Island of Wuz, where genetic distinctions seem to mean little when it comes to reproductive success. The main characters were Bumblelion (a cross between a bumblebee and a lion), Eleroo (elephant and kangaroo), Hoppopotamus (rabbit and hippopotamus), Moosel (moose and seal), Rhinokey (rhinoceros and monkey) and Butterbear (butterfly and bear — but she also seemed to have a little plant in her family background, as flowers grew out of her head). Others seen from time to time included Skowl (skunk and owl), Woolrus (lamb and walrus), Tycoon (tiger and raccoon) and Piggypine (pig and porcupine).

Possibly the title indicated the whole menagerie was a whacky puzzle. No, make that weird rather than whacky — the scenario was distinctly unnatural. But that doesn't seem to bother fans of less heterogenous funny animals.

Bumblelion's voice was provided by Brian Cummings (Papa Q. Bear), Eleroo's by Henry Gibson (Mayor Lindt in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters), Hoppopotamus's by Jo Anne Worley (Miss Maples in A Goofy Movie), Moosel's by Bill Scott (Bullwinkle), Rhinokey's by Alan Oppenheimer (The Watcher in 1990s Fantastic Four cartoons) and Butterbear's by Kathleen Helppie-Shipley (known mostly as a writer and producer of TV projects using the old Warner Bros. characters).

There were a few books aimed at beginning readers, but not much other merchandise. Only 13 episodes were produced. CBS ran and re-ran them for one season, then dropped the series. The first episode, Bulls of a Feather, was released theatrically in England during March of 1986, but not elsewhere. ABC repeated the13 episodes a few times during the 1986-87 season. After that, The Disney Channel ran them for a while. They're seldom seen today.


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Text ©2004-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Walt Disney Co.