CAST OF FRIENDS

BO_About2

BO

Bo is an impetuous, inquisitive, quirky robot who wants to become a boy. Made by zoo animals out of spare toy parts, Bo is a tabula rasa of sorts…but paw prints are the main impressions on this blank slate!

The animals made Bo to look human…at least from their perspective. He’s bipedal like a human. It’s just that his arms and legs can extend and retract. He walks upright like a human, but has nubs running along the outside of his spine like a Lego block that allow him to attach things to his back, such as rocket boosters or peacock feathers. He has a torso that’s like a human’s, except his is an old mailbox that’s filled with toys. He can open its flap, which is near his chest, reach in and grab any toy he wants—now that’s some toy chest!

Bo also has a head that is sort of shaped like a human’s—if a human’s head were shaped like an upside-down toaster. Now he’s just go to fill that head with human experiences!

Bo is a wonderer and a wanderer. He can be very focused on his mission, but he’s also easily distracted. And if he sees something he likes, or is curious about, or wants to try, he’s gone, racing at it a hundred miles a minute. Then he stops short, wondering, “How would a real boy do that?”

As Bo beholds his brave new world, he is filled with awe and delight. He has a wide-eyed fascination with everything, from what is a jelly bean? to what is jealousy? (and why does the former sometimes inspire the latter in kids?). Free of any cultural conceits, Bo embraces the human culture with an open mind, playfulness and persistence. He approaches life with curiosity, optimism and respect. Bo is game enough to give anything a go, no matter how ridiculous it might be.

When you’re that willing to try things, you’re going to fall on your face every now and then. And if you’re going to fall on your face, you’d better know how to shake yourself off and laugh. Bo is great at this. He blunders and reacts with amused resilience. But when he witnesses others blunder, he reacts with compassion.

Every now and then, Bo encounters something that overwhelms him. Maybe it’s a situation that makes him shy. Or something that scares him. In those cases, he literally retreats inside himself. He retracts his arms. He retracts his legs. He retracts his head. Zoop. Everything gets pulled into his torso, where his toys are, and he’s nothing but a box—an old mailbox, to be exact.

Bo lives with Mr. Mike, the caretaker of the Wild Zoo. In a house crammed with quirky contraptions, Bo may seem like just another eccentricity there. But he has a very special place in the house…and in Mr. Mike’s heart. As he does with his animal charges, Mr. Mike takes a light-handed and lighthearted approach to Bo, allowing the little robot to figure things out for himself, in his own time, and having complete faith that he will.

Elephant_About2

Velvet the Elephant

Velvet is Bo’s loyal and protective best animal friend, rescued from a rickety circus. At the circus Velvet worked closely with the ringleader, so she has a sort of “take charge” personality. Like all elephants, Velvet walks on her tiptoes…but unlike most elephants, she does so in her favorite pair of mouse slippers.

Velvet is a can-do sort of girl. She has earnestly dedicated herself to Bo’s mission to become a boy. Like an overenthusiastic camp counselor, Velvet has a new, fun challenge for Bo every day, and she keeps his agenda on a tablet so she can “check” things off. Too bad Bo doesn’t stay still long enough to hear her—he just runs off on impulse.

Velvet often puts words to Bo’s actions, and grounds her pal with her “elephant gravitas.” That is not to say that Velvet is all work and no play. Quite the contrary. Velvet has a playful approach to life that makes her an ideal friend to Bo. She loves to dance, giggle and cuddle, and sometimes is so enthusiastic about Bo’s quest that she can’t help but try out whatever it is he’s doing for the first time too—like jumping on a bed at a sleep over! When that’s the case, look out!

Velvet’s big, sidekick body juxtaposed next to Bo’s on an adventure is cause for lots of laughs. While she may be the “good angel” voice of consideration to Evu’s outrageous suggestions, her open heart and adventurous spirit make her ready to support her friend Bo in any decisions he makes.

Evu_About

Evu the Emu

Evu is an incredibly kooky, irrational emu who overreacts to everything—joy, fear, sadness, lunch. Like all emus, Evu cannot fly. But no other emu can take the flights of fancy that he can. His penchant for exaggeration is legendary, and his preposterous tales are even taller than his ridiculously long legs, which contort in all kinds of crazy directions.

Evu is awkward in movement and speech, but that doesn’t stop him from constantly moving and talking! Evu thinks he knows everything, and he’s often the first to say, “I know!” when Bo asks a question. And of course he’s always wrong.

Evu likes to spy on Bo and Velvet. He is a bit jealous of Bo’s relationship with Velvet and tries to insert himself in to be the center of attention. He has plenty of fabricated stories to tell, and he keeps a pouch of his mementos at his side as “proof” of his escapades. Evu calls it his “bag of tricks,” but it’s really nothing more than a bunch of silly old stuff Mr. Mike gave him after cleaning out his workshop one day.

Whereas Velvet knows to take Evu with a grain of salt, Bo hangs on the bird’s every word. Somewhere between Evu’s absurdity and Bo’s gullibility lies a beautiful friendship.

Mia_About

Mia

Mia is a 7-year-oldhuman girl who has just moved to the city and lives near the Wild Zoo. Being new in school is a challenge. Precocious in nature, she can be a bit direct at times, which puts off some of her classmates who don’t understand her yet. She feels a little lonely, but soothes herself by sketching. She loves to paint and loves animals, so being so close to the Wild Zoo that she can see it out her window is a dream come true for Mia. She thinks she would like to be a veterinarian someday. Or maybe an artist. Or maybe build her own animal preserve, like Mr. Mike. There are so many possibilities, and Mia sees the world as her oyster.

One day Bo spots her visiting the Wild Zoo and becomes fascinated with her. At first she isn’t sure what Bo is or how to react to him, but he soon wins her over with his naïve charm. Besides, she hasn’t made many friends at school yet, and Bo is sooooo willing to be her pal! So Mia becomes Bo’s first human friend and key role model for him to see what children do.

Mia opens Bo’s eyes up to the outside world and all its possibilities, and Bo sees her as an expert at everything. Mia treats Bo like the kid brother she wishes she had. (She does have a baby brother, but to Mia he’s just an eating, pooping and drooling machine.) She plays with Bo, dresses him up, forces him to dance with her, fusses over him and, every so often, bosses him around. Mia likes that Bo thinks she is a genius. She enjoys helping Bo discover new things in the world. She also has a great sense of humor and loves to take turns with Bo making each other laugh. A big fan of playing pretend, Mia sees Bo as a willing lump of clay ready to be shaped into any character her imagination desires.

While Mia may pretend to know everything, she too is navigating the sometimes challenging waters of “growing up human.” One of her biggest challenges has to do with sharing. Another is listening. Mia is usually a very kind, well-behaved girl, but at times she prefers to listen to the call of the wild than the call of her mother or teacher. It’s something she has to work on!

Monkey_About

Milo the Musical Monkey

Kept as the pet of a famous rock star, Milo spent most of his time in a cage, traveling all around the world on tour with the band. One day the band played a concert at the Wild Zoo. Milo took one look around and knew he had found his true home. Milo snuck away and sought refuge with Mr. Mike. The Wild Zoo brought him freedom. He brought the Wild Zoo amazing music.

While life on the road with a rock band was at times hard on a little monkey, Milo did learn a lot. A natural musical prodigy, Milo taught himself how to play several instruments just from watching the band practice. Like all monkeys, Milo can use his hands and his feet to hold onto tree branches. But how many monkeys can use their hands and feet to play guitar and drums at the same time? Mr. Mike encourages Milo’s love of music, and has built him an entire orchestra of monkey-friendly instruments and a stage tucked between two large trees.

Milo loves music so much that he hears it in all the sounds of the Wild Zoo. He uses these sounds in the music he makes. Velvet is one of Milo’s biggest fans, thrilled to have his tunes to dance to. And in Bo Milo finds not only an eager friend, but also a buddy with a built-in recording device.

Having been around the world as part of a celebrity entourage, Milo’s perspective on life is a bit skewed. He is used to being catered to, and has never had to find a meal for himself in his life. He likes to have things done for him, and rarely knows how to work as a team with the others. With the help of Mr. Mike, Milo is learning to be less self-centered and more self-sufficient.

Mr. Mike

Mr. Mike is an animal rescuer who has built the Wild Zoo for the animals he has saved. He is a kind, thoughtful old man with a twinkle in his eye and a warm, broad smile. The quintessential caretaker, he puts the comfort, happiness and security of his rescued animals above all else, while also knowing how to give them space to be who they want to be.

Mr. Mike is also a brilliant, if somewhat eccentric, inventor who spends his days creating fabulous devices that make his rescued animals feel more at home. He loves to tinker around and build things, and has “never met a problem he couldn’t fix.” He wears a wacky tool belt for such instances. And although he is wise, Mr. Mike is constantly busy attending to the Wild Zoo, which means he’s not always around to give Bo that sage advice when he needs it. So the animals fill in.

Mr. Mike is amused at Bo’s earnest efforts to become a child, but loves Bo for the quirky little robot that he is. He reinforces in Bo—and in all the animals—that it’s okay to be different. We are each very special “beasts” indeed.