For all your Red Sox and America’s Got Talent fans — the ZOOperstars! will bounce, flip and dance their way across the field:
Date: Friday, July 30
Time: 7:05 p.m.
Salem Red Sox vs. Lynchburg Hillcats
Place: Salem Memorial Ballpark
One of the most popular sports acts today, the ZOOperstars! are sports entertainment shows that perform at sports venues and special events around the world. Earlier this year, the ZOOperstars! zany crew was featured in the top 20 acts of “America’s Got Talent.”
Owned, operated and created by brothers Dominic and Brennan Latkovski, ZOOperstars! features inflatable animal characters based on the names of celebrities and sports figures. The characters make numerous appearances throughout the show and perform comedic skits, synchronized dance routines and hilarious antics amid the crowd. Overall, ZOOperstars! has 35 characters in its troupe, but usually about five characters are represented at each show.
Created by Dominic, who in 1990 started performing as Billy Bird (the mascot for the Triple-A Louisville Redbirds), and Brennan, BirdZerk! debuted in 1995. The entertaining mascot BirdZerk! is a whirlybird with more tricks up his feathers than Houdini. His act includes hijinks with players and coaches, playful harassment of umpires and officials, and zany antics with the crowd. BirdZerk! is accompanied by his sidekicks, BabyZerk!, BallZerk! and Zerk! Jr. (all three of which are inflatable characters).
About Dominic Latkovski
Dominic Latkovski, 38, has been a mascot for about as long as he has been able to drive. At Atherton High School in the Louisville area, Dominic played soccer and served as the school mascot. He attended college at Bellarmine University, where he continued his soccer career and became the third all-time leading scorer in school history. Dominic also became Billy Bird, the mascot for the Triple-A Louisville Redbirds in 1990. Dominic and his wife Christin have two children and live in Shepherdsville, Ky.
About Brennan Latkovski
Brennan Latkovski, 37, has soccer and mascot performing in his blood as well. Brennan, who played soccer at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., made the Kentucky Junior Olympics soccer team in high school. He performed as a radio station moose and the Kentucky State Fair Bear before becoming a sidekick to Billy Bird and then helping Dominic launch BirdZerk! and ZOOperstars! Brennan and his wife Erin have two children and live in Louisville.
Seven full time, 10 part time
- ZOOperstars! was founded in 1998 as a spinoff of the Latkovski brothers’ first venture, BirdZerk!, which features the feathery namesake mascot and his sidekicks, BabyZerk! BallZerk! and Zerk! Jr. (which are all inflatable characters). Like ZOOperstars!, BirdZerk! performs at venues and special events across the United States and the world.
- Harry Canary was the first ZOOperstars! character, created by Andy Latkovski, a former umpire and referee and the founders’ father. Cow Ripken Jr., Ken Giraffey Jr. and Shark McGwire soon followed.
- ZOOperstars! performs 200 shows each year at big league and minor league baseball games, professional and minor league basketball games, and NHL and minor league hockey matches, Arena Football League games, and an assortment of college sports events as well as corporate shows, fairs and festivals.
- Bobby Orrangutang
- Mario LeMule
- Shark McGwire
- Cow Ripken, Jr.
- Ken Giraffey, Jr.
- Harry Canary
- Clammy Sosa
- Roger Clamens
- Dominik Hashark
- Whale Gretzky
- Donovan McCrabb
- Peyton Manatee
- Nolan Rhino
- Pee Wee Geese
- Ichiroach Suzuki
- Nomar Garciaparrot
- Mia Hammster
- Shaquille O’Seal
- Dennis Frogman
- Stallion Iverson
- LeBronco James
- Tiger Woodschuck
- Dick Flytale
- Centipete Rose
- Snail Earnhardt, Jr.
- Jeff Gordog
- Rusty Walrus
- Monkey Mantle
- Yao Flamingo
- Mackerel Jordan
- Deion Salamanders
- Derek Cheetah
- Elephant Presley
BirdZerk! and ZOOperstars Travelogue
BirdZerk! and the ZOOperstars! are globetrotters, having performed at sports venues around the United States and the world. To see a list of where they have appeared, visit www.birdzerk.com and www.zooperstars.com
Dominic and Brennan Latkovski
P.O. Box 36061
Louisville, KY 40233
ZOOperstars! are born….
Dominic and Brennan Latkovski are entertainers at heart. The brothers are the brains behind BirdZerk! and ZOOperstars!, both popular traveling sports entertainment shows that perform at sports venues across the United States and the world. So it was no surprise that they decided to make their afternoon at Wrigley Field one to remember a few years ago.
The duo, in town for a performance that night, was excited about watching a Cubs-White Sox game. Since they were at Wrigley Field, they brought a costume that fans of the Friendly Confines would truly appreciate. ZOOperstars! features a troupe of characters named after famous sports figures. On this day, Dominic went into a bathroom and changed into Harry Canary, a tall and portly singing bird adorned with Coke bottle glasses and cotton-white hair.
As Harry Canary, Dominic took his seat next to Brennan along the right field line, to the delight of fans throughout the ballpark. Cheers soon turned into boos when
security guards led Dominic away in handcuffs after they told him no costumes were allowed inside Wrigley Field. A flustered Dominic was held in a holding tank beneath the center field stands until he was released, instructed never to return. Brennan was shown the exit gate as well.
It was the only time Dominic can recall that Harry Canary, or any of the multitude of characters that compose the ZOOperstars! and BirdZerk! shows, were not warmly embraced by those who encountered them.
BirdZerk! – an act that includes the feathery namesake character and his sidekicks, the inflatable Zerk! Jr., BallZerk! and BabyZerk! – performs about 60 shows a year. ZOOperstars – which feature 32 inflatable characters with amusing names like Tiger Woodschuck, Whale Gretzky, Mia Hammster, Shaquille O’Seal and Clammy Sosa – make more than 200 appearances annually. They perform at Major League and Minor League baseball parks, NBA and minor league basketball games, NHL and minor league hockey matches and an assortment of college sports among other events.
Long before the entrepreneurial brothers were building the nation’s most popular sports entertainment company, they developed an interest in performing as mascots. Dominic was his high school’s mascot before attending Bellarmine University, where he played soccer and attended a tryout for Billy Bird, the mascot of the Triple-A Louisville Redbirds.
“I wasn’t their first choice,” said Dominic, who was 19 at the time. He is now 36. “I was second, but the guy who was the top choice backed out, and I gladly accepted the opportunity.”
Dominic performed as Billy Bird while continuing his studies at Bellarmine. A class project spurred the idea for the venture that would later become BirdZerk!
“Our assignment was to create a business plan, and I had three ideas in mind. One was a ticket brokerage (Dominic supplemented his income in high school and college by purchasing and selling tickets to concerts and sporting events), and another was a home energy efficiency testing system. The third, of course, was a business idea based on Billy Bird.”
Heeding his professor’s advice, Dominic pursued the Billy Bird idea, which involved performing at minor league baseball games with Billy Bird and his sidekicks. Interestingly, Billy Bird’s uniform was designed by the mother of Ted Giannoulas, who portrayed The Chicken, one of the traveling sports entertainment shows (along with Captain Dynamite, Morganna the Kissing Bandit and Max Patkin, the Clown Prince of Baseball) that interested Dominic as a child. Billy Bird & Company was born, with Dominic serving as Billy Bird and Brennan filling the role of a sidekick. Brennan, who is 35, played soccer at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. He had performed as a radio station moose and the Kentucky State Fair Bear.
Billy Bird & Company was such a success that, after earning his degree, Dominic decided the group should attend the 1992 baseball winter meetings, which was fortunately held in Louisville. Using Dominic’s Billy Bird earnings and his funds raised by sales of Garth Brooks concert tickets, they created a video, designed marketing materials and built a booth for the annual trade show attended by big league and minor league baseball officials. Dominic invested $6,000 hoping that his presence would result in at least four bookings at $1,500 per appearance.
“That first year we did 48 shows,” Dominic said. “As long as I fulfilled my role as Billy Bird at Redbirds home games, they allowed me to use the Billy Bird character at Billy Bird & Company performances.”
In 1993, Billy Bird & Company appeared in Monclova, Mexico; Stockton, California; Clearwater, Florida and Medicine Hat, Canada and everywhere in between. To create a character of their own, Dominic and Brennan left Billy Bird behind and debuted BirdZerk! in 1995.
With its hijinks with players and coaches, humorous harassment of umpires and interaction with the crowd, BirdZerk! became a hit. Bookings increased in each of the first three years, keeping Dominic and Brennan busy traveling and performing year-round. Eventually, they added an inflatable character sidekick to BirdZerk!, which led to an idea that transformed the brothers’ operation into the country’s premiere sports entertainment company.
“My father kept suggesting that we change BirdZerk! to a character he called Harry Canary,” Brennan said. “He thought that baseball fans would more easily connect with a bird with glasses and white hair that leaned out the press box window and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” than BirdZerk!