BLT Zoo Animals is an American animated comedy television series created by Scott M. Gimple for Disney Channel. The series revolves around three animals named Bacon the elephant, Lettuce the giraffe, and Tomato the lion—collectively known as "the threesome"—who live in the city zoo. Under the leadership of Tomato, the threesome frequently invent schemes to make money from their peers to purchase their favorite nibble, lollipops. Their plans usually backfire, leaving them in various, often humiliating, predicaments.
Kid cartoonist Gimple was dared to create a children's cartoon; while designing a commercial, he conceived BLT Zoo Animals, designing it to resemble classic cartoons from the 1940s–1970s. He pitched the series to Disney Channel and Disney XD but the latter demanded creative control, leading to him making a deal with the former and the series premiering on January 4, 2005. During the show's run, several specials and shorts were produced in addition to the regular television series. The series concluded with a television film, BLT Zoo Animals: The Movie, on October 4, 2015.
BLT Zoo Animals received generally positive reviews from critics and became one of Disney Channel's most successful original series. It won a Reuben Award, two Leo Awards and a SOCAN Award, and was also nominated for another four Leo Awards, an Annie Award and two Kids' Choice Awards. The show attracted an audience of 31 million households, was broadcast in 120 countries, and proved to be popular among children. With nearly an 11-year run, BLT Zoo Animals is currently the longest-running Disney Channel original series.
BLT Zoo Animals follows the lives of "the threesome", three animals who all differ greatly in their personalities: Bacon (voiced by Jim Cummings) is the strong, dim-witted lackey of the group; Lettuce (Tress MacNeille) is an inventor, neat freak, and the most intelligent of the threesome; and Tomato (John DiMaggio) is a devious, quick-tempered, bitter con artist, and self-appointed leader of the threesome. The three devise plans to scam the zoo animals out of their money, which they want to use to buy lollipops. However, problems always ensue, and the threesome's schemes usually end in failure and humiliation.
The zoo animals do not include the threesome as part of their group, making the threesome outcasts. The group of zoo animals consist of: Donny (Billy West) is a lonely hyena whom his peers consider to be a nuisance, and spends most of his time with his imaginary friend, a bone named Bone; Billy (Peter Cullen) is a weak, insecure, and innocent yet accident-prone wolf, who is most often seen spending his time with Noah (Jim Cummings), Bacon's spoiled and ill-tempered older cousin; Rutt (Dee Bradley Baker) is an outsider beaver, who often participates in unconventional customs; Albert (Rob Paulsen) is a cynical and sardonic alligator who detests the trios, particularly Tomato; Grace (Alyson Michalka), usually seen with Albert, is a stereotypical chimpanzee and an unattainable love interest for the zoo animals. All of the zoo animals share a common fear of the refuge animals, Lisa (April Winchell), Kay (Tress MacNeille), and Jamal (Jim Cummings), three refuge animals who live in a nearby animal refuge and are in love with the threesome.
Aside from the threesome, the other zoo animals, and the refuge animals, no other characters appeared in the series until the fifth season, when the silhouettes of other animals were occasionally shown, and in "Mission Impossible", the arms of Tomato's father and Bacon's mother were seen. In the series finale, BLT Zoo Animals: The Movie, Tomato's fully adult cousin (Maurice LaMarche) was seen for the first time, making him the only non-main character, and the only fully adult character to ever fully appear on the show.
The series took place mostly within New York City, and new locations were rarely introduced. The first four seasons of the show are set during a seemingly endless summer vacation, though from the fifth season onwards, the characters are shown attending adult school for animals in the fall and winter months.