Daktari (Swahili for "doctor") was a television series that aired on CBS from 1966 to 1969, featuring Marshall Thompson as Dr. Marsh Tracy, a veterinarian at the fictional Wameru Study Center for Animal Behavior in East Africa.
The show followed the work of Dr. Tracy, his daughter Paula (Cheryl Miller), and his staff, who were frequently forced to protect animals from poachers and local officials. Tracy's pets, a cross-eyed lion named Clarence and chimpanzee Judy, were also popular characters.
Daktari was based upon the 1965 film Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, which also starred Thompson as Dr. Tracy.
The concept was developed by producer Ivan Tors, inspired by the work of Dr. A.M. "Toni" Harthoorn at his animal orphanage in Nairobi. Dr. Harthoorn was a tireless campaigner for animal rights, and with his research team invented the capture gun for animals and the drugs to sedate them.
In the show's final season, child star Erin Moran joined the cast as Jenny Jones, a seven-year-old orphan who becomes part of the Tracy household. According to the show's closing credits, it was "filmed in Africa and Africa, U.S.A.," a wild animal ranch created by animal trainers Ralph and Toni Helfer in Soledad Canyon . north of Los Angeles. Leonard B. Kaufman, the producer, wrote in liner notes for Shelly Manne's Daktari, that he shot the series on location in Mozambique.
The show had distinctive accompanying music that was a fusion of jazz and African influences. Jazz drummer Shelly Manne contributed music; he released an affiliated record, Daktari: Shelly Manne Performs and Conducts His Original Music for the Hit TV Show, on the Atlantic Records label in 1968. On this album, Mike Wofford plays a tack piano to evoke an African sound, and Manne is joined by percussionists Emil Richards, Larry Bunker, Frank Carlson, and Victor Feldman. Together, according to the liner notes on the album, Manne and his fellow percussionists play ankle and wrist jingles, Thailand mouth organs, aungloongs, ocarinas, vibraphones, tympani, and different kinds of marimbas.