Video Game / Zoo Tycoon

Zoo Tycoon is a series of video games (mostly for PC) where the player is given the task of managing a zoo, keeping both its guests and animals happy and healthy, or not. The first game was released in 2001, with expansion packs adding dinosaurs (Dinosaur Digs, 2002) and marine life (Marine Mania, 2002) to the mix.

The sequel, Zoo Tycoon 2 (2004), brought the game into 3D and changed several mechanics, while still following the same set of ideas. This game also had expansion packs: Endangered Species (2005), African Adventure (2006), Marine Mania (2006), and Extinct Animals (2007).

A reboot for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 was released in 2013, and in 2014, an app was announced for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

This game provides examples of:

  • An Entrepreneur Is You
  • Animal Gender-Bender:
    • In the first game, male and female ostriches look the same, whereas in real life the males are black and the females brownish.
    • Also in the first game, female kangaroos are incorrectly just as red as the male ones.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Animals in ZT2 squat to poop, but nearly all have no orifice to poop through (the hippos do have an anal dot). Aurochs cows in the "Extinct Animals" expansion have a visible udder, but it doesn't have any teats.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Many, in both the original and in the sequel.
    • The animal's inability to reach a certain pile of food or food troughs for absolutely no reason. (Though sometimes that message will show up but when you click over to check it out the animal is eating/drinking from the very thing they supposedly couldn't get to.)
    • Zookeepers being unable to reach a animal/food dish/poo for no reason at all. Instead choosing running around the sides of the exhibit. It should be noted that this is sometimes the player's fault if they forgot to add a staff gate (in the sequel anyway, as gates are automatically added to enclosures in the original) or if the gate is blocked by another object, but just as often the keeper simply has no excuse.
    • In the original game. If you put 500 scientists and a dinosaur on an island, the scientists will completely ignore the dinosaur which is eating them up. Meanwhile, the only scientist in your park who isn't on the island will be trying to get there to put the dinosaur back in a cage. Marine Biologists are even worse. Fortunately this was somewhat fixed for the sequel Extinct Animals.
    • Zoo guests are annoyingly dimwitted. You can build a zoo so a whole food court + bathrooms is within easy reach at all times, but there will always be at least one angry guest with a critical level need because they decided that riding a zoo ride/making a wish/talking to another guest was more important than taking care of that need before it got too high. Of course, the zoo is what they blame. In other words, a perfect representation of reality.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Some of the best user-created zoos in the sequel use dozens of hyper-realistic mods that are used to achieve a realistic looking zoo. Unfortunately, guests cannot see through fences that they should or animals cannot get around due to too many rocks.
    • Dinosaur exhibits seem appealing, but they take a lot of money to build and maintain. They also require a lot of room you could have used on something else, which can be especially problematic since the size of the exhibit can negatively impact guest happiness: If they don't see lots of happy animals, their happiness score starts to decline.
    • Yetis are prohibitively expensive and are very picky about their exhibit.note  In spite of their mythical appeal, they aren't popular to guests because of their tendency to hide in their shelter. Raising a yeti is akin to a Self-Imposed Challenge.
    • Jeep tours in the African Adventure and Endangered Species expansion packs are a fun way to see your animals up close. However, the Jeeps have to stop every time animals are in their way, leading to traffic jams and unhappy guests. God help you if your animals decide to mate or sleep in the middle of the road.
  • Artistic License Biology:
    • Occasional gaffes in animals' descriptions (Galapagos giant tortoises on the mainland?) or the criteria of a challenge (jaguars, whose breeding range extends into Mexico, not counting as a North American species).
    • Animals do not breed according to certain seasons, instead they breed randomly without any pattern to it. Species where normally the females would give birth all around the same time don't.
    • Most animals have two young at a time at the most, even if they are lions or other animals that usually have more than that.
    • In most cases the female animals are not smaller than the males.
    • Your birds and crocodiles are said to have given birth when they have young, instead of laying an egg. The dinosaurs (with the exception of the hidden Triceratops in the first game, which lays eggs when the Dinosaur Digs pack is installed) correctly lay eggs.
    • "Bengal tigers live in small groups." Wait, what?
    • Baby penguins are simply a smaller version of the adult penguin model instead of a more accurate fluff ball.
    • Black bears and grizzly bears can co-exist in the same exhibit, despite the two being enemies in real life.
    • Flamingos eat hay in the first game.
  • Artistic License Paleontology:
    • Some of the dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures inhabit unrealistic biomes. You can, for instance, make a Stegosaurus happier by putting a glacier in its exhibit.
    • Several extinct animals are also inaccurate in terms of behavior and/or appearance (the likely herbivorous oviraptorosaur Protarchaeopteryx is portrayed as a strict carnivore).
    • Despite the extinct animals living in different biomes even within the game, every zoo from the city to the arctic have the fossils for every extinct animal. Needless to say, no animals, extinct or living, lived in every biome on Earth.
  • Bears Are Bad News: If you sic the bears on the zoo guests anyway.
  • Big Ball of Violence: Fights between animals are shown this way in the original.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • A lot of the animals available for adoption early on (such as peacocks or gazelles) aren't as interesting as later species, but they are very easy to please and will often have a lot of babies as a result. Since guests love baby animals, they can easily earn back a lot of donation money, and you can release the babies when they grow up for an extra fame boost.
    • Low-mantinence animals like warthogs, giant anteaters; etc. They're not all that interesting to either players or visitors, but they fill up the species/exhibit quota for any scenario, and are necessary for any starting zoo. Warthogs in the first game are particularly useful for their breeding ability, which will provide revenue in both increased attendance and selling off any overcrowding animals once the babies reach adulthood.
    • In the first game,any animal suited to the environment the zoo is situated in. For early scenarios, grassland animals are a given, while later scenarios like the ones seen in the "Advanced" difficulty switch it up.
  • Cheat Code: Everywhere. From "shift-4" for unlimited cash to the various ways renaming exhibits can unlock special animals to how aquatic-themed items react if you put them in a tank, there are little bonuses all over the place.
  • Conservation of Competence: The Artificial Stupidity problems mentioned are more likely to manifest and worsen, the bigger your zoo is and the more guests who visit (which does make a certain amount of sense, as they are all drawing on your computer's resources, and thus have a fixed amount of "intelligence" between them).
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The Dino Capture Team.
  • Dumb Dinos: The herbivorous dinosaurs in the first game don't bother to defend themselves from predators, even ones much smaller than they are. Averted in the sequel with the Utahraptors and Stokesosaurus, who are smart enough to need enrichment and like to paint.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • In the first game, the Triceratops does not start as an egg. Triceratops are also in an Expansion Pack as a non-hidden animal. If you install said expansion pack, it can cause your old Triceratops to be able to break out of their enclosures because the Expansion Pack changes what fences are compatible with the animal.
    • The first game is the only one in the series where you cannot play as a zoo keeper.
  • Easter Egg:
    • You can unlock Triceratops, mermaids, Bigfoot, and unicorns by doing certain things in the first game.
    • Spinning the globe enough times in the sequel causes the entire population to scream loudly.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Animals can be released by deleting a section of fence or they can escape on their own if you don't maintain damaged sections of fencing. Releasing the Tyrannosaurus in Dinosaur Digs can provide a little fun via Easter egg. If the T. rex destroys a one-person restroom you can see a person crying on the toilet (a reference to the lawyer's fate in Jurassic Park.)
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Dinosaur Digs in the first game and Extinct Animals in the second one.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: and monkeys. And yes, even bears. And so on, and so forth.
    • In the first game, placing an Emperor Penguin in an exhibit suited to it will make it kill any other animal placed into the same exhibit, unless it's a penguin.
      • Parodied in the sequel with the Killer Penguins that can get dumped on you.
  • Expansion Pack: Two for the first game and four for the second.
  • Explosive Breeder: Warthogs, at least in the first game. They could have up to six in a litter, easily the fastest breeders in the game, and they would overcrowd very quickly.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Using the right expansion packs and Easter eggs, your zoo can include exhibits for bigfoot, yeti, mermaids, unicorns, and Loch Ness monsters.
  • Follow the Leader: Zoo Tycoon was one of many "tycoon" simulation games released during the time of RollerCoaster Tycoon's popularity. However, the game was one of the few "tycoon" games that were good.
  • Fossil Revival: In Extinct Animals, you can hunt for fossils and bring them to life in an extinct research lab.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: In the second game, messing too much in the genetic lab minigame will result in a killer penguin: An even more psychotic prehistoric rockhopper penguin from Madagascar (yes, possibly related to those penguins) complete with teeth, red glowing eyes, and a taste for Tyrannosaurs and anything smaller. And you can't sell it. EVER.
    • Also, if someone tries to sell you a free penguin, do not accept the offer. Unless you like them for some strange reason.
    • Even worse, sometimes after you get the Killer Penguin, IT REPLACES THE SCIENTIST IN THE GENETIC LAB. Have fun sleeping tonight!
  • Guide Dang It: In the first game, one of the goals of the Endangered Species scenario is to breed three different kinds of animals - the White Tiger, the Black Leopard, and the Okapi - before the time limit. While the former two breed fairly quickly, the Okapi are very shy and won't breed easily even with perfect conditions. Unless the player knew their animals, they wouldn't think to build the Okapi exhibit with any greater urgency than the other two, thus running out of time and losing the scenario because of doing things in the wrong order. The fact that the Okapi are the last of these animals to be researched put this scenario firmly in That One Level terriory.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Played irritatingly straight. Place a carnivore in an herbivore's exhibit and it's pretty much a death sentence for the latter, regardless of whether or not the herbivore can defend itself. This ranges from the mildly annoying but unsurprising (like crocodiles eating peafowl) to the absolutely ridiculous (Protarchaeopteryx, a dinosaur smaller than a turkey, effortlessly killing and eating Kentrosaurus, a dinosaur the size of a truck and covered in gigantic spikes).
  • Holiday Mode: During the in-game Christmas and Halloween, you'll sometimes see Santa or a witch flying through the air.
    • And on December 25th and October 31st, you can buy special objects (a Christmas tree and a Jack-o-Lantern).
    • Guests' clothing can be changed to holiday-appropriate colors with the right Easter Egg.
  • In-Name-Only: Protarchaeopteryx in "Extinct Animals". What makes this example so strange is the fact that the fossil you revive the animal from is clearly the famous Berlin specimen Archaeopteryx meaning that they could have just made it "Archaeopteryx" instead. To make things worse, the original Protarchaeopteryx specimen is actually complete enough to include in the minigame.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Reading the thoughts of a guest being attacked by an animal will show that their only reaction is "Ouch! I've been attacked by [animal]".
  • Misplaced Vegetation: Averted in ZT1, as animals become unhappy if the plants in their exhibits are inappropriate to their native habitats.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Crocodiles are included in both games. In ZT1, once you complete all of the Dinosaur Digs campaigns or just rename an exhibit "Super Croc", it unlocks Deinosuchus, which is basically, as the exhibit name implies, a giant crocodile.
    • The second game also allows for Deinosuchus to either purchase, or create in the extinct research lab. Though unlike the real Deinosuchus, it has spikes because it looks cool or something.
  • No Fair Cheating: Using the "SHIFT-4" cheat to get extra money will completely break one section of an exhibit's fencing or dirty a tank in the Marine Mania expansion.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Instead of the free reign you have on exhibits in ZT2, animals in the first game have a VERY SPECIFIC amount of trees, rocks, appropriate tiles they want in their exhibit. Putting just one extra water tile in and they'll produce a "sad/angry" face instead of a happy face.
  • Ptero Soarer: The "Pteranodon House" contains no Pteranodon.
    • There are some custom fan-mods of pterosaurs that vary in terms of accuracy.
  • Raptor Attack: Velociraptor appears in the first game, and it's scaly. A scaly Deinonychus and Utahraptor and feathered Velociraptor appear in ZT2. The male Utahraptors have feathery crests on their heads.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • In real life zoos, peafowl are typically allowed to roam free, but in ZT 2, free-roaming peafowl almost always send guests into a panic. There are ways around this, though.
    • You can feed a number of live prey items to your carnivorous animals. In real life this was common in the past, but today most zoos have banned the practice of using live prey, for both ethical and safety reasons (it is unfair to the prey animal, as it does not have any chance of escape like it would in the wild - and because it's still alive, it is obviously going to fight back, which can lead to the predator animal being severely injured or killed).
  • Real Time with Pause: You can pause the game time and still make buildings or adopt animals.
  • Running Gag: On the original game box art, a white mouse can be seen if you look closely. This continued with the two white mice (Zoey & Zeek) on the ZT2boxarts.
  • Scenery Porn: In Zoo Tycoon 2, even subpar landscaping can lead to this. This also a given with user created content.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Everywhere. Japanese Serow, Bowhead Whales, Olive Baboons, Camptosaurus, Markhor, Blackbuck, Caudipteryx...
    • Continues in the second game with False Killer Whales, Pygmy Hippos, Geladas, Ethiopian Wolves, Goblin Sharks, Metridiochoerus...
  • Shout-Out: In the first game, placing a lion, tiger, and bear in a single exhibit will unlock a yellow brick pathway.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • While not done entirely accurately, the Velociraptor in "Extinct Animals" has feathers.
    • Many of the pterosaur fan-mods launch quadrupedally.
    • The game shows giraffes walking correctly. Giraffes walk by moving both right legs at the same time, then both left legs at the same time.
  • Spiritual Successor: World of Zoo, another Blue Fang production, can be seen as this.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Played straight and averted, fan-favorites like T. rex, Triceratops and Stegosaurus can be adopted but so can obscure creatures like Sivatherium, Stokesosaurus and Protarchaeopteryx.
  • Take That: If guests don't like your zoo and begin to leave, they'll mention going to an amusement park instead.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex
  • Unicorn: Can be unlocked in the first game by naming a exhibit "Xanadu". Interestingly, the males are black and orange and the females white. They also sound exactly like the zebras in the game. You could chalk it up to lazy programming, but they bothered to give the wild horses proper neighs...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • To both the animals and the guests. It's possible to sic lions and other predators on your prey animals or guests. There is even a nice animation for the T. rex when it attacks a man. It tosses him into the air and swallows him alive.
    • You can also pick up your guests and put them in a tank, where they will drown if you block the way out.
    • You pretty much can treat your animals as good or bad as you like, though the game does punish you if you are mean to them.
    • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Having too many unhappy animals will make you unable to adopt new ones. The only way to lift this restriction is raising the existing animals' happiness to higher levels.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: If you like animals, you'll probably fulfill the Caring Potential more than the Cruelty Potential. Even if you do occasionally let your Komodo dragons out when guests are being annoying.
  • Video Game Time: Days and months will pass in-game while your guests walk from one end of the zoo to another.
  • Wall Crawl: Graphics limitations can result in ZT2 animals walking on near-vertical cliff walls as if they're horizontal.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child / Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Your predators will never hurt women or children no matter how hungry they are. They will attack men, however.
  • You Are Number 6: The default name of the animals are basically "[Species Name] [Number]". For example: Nile Crocodile 1, or Polar Bear 4.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/ZooTycoon