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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, to fairly positive reviews. It was followed by a couple of expansion packs which added dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals (Dinosaur Digs, 2002) as well as marine life (Marine Mania, 2002) to the mix. The three original games would later be combined in Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection, a compilation which also came with new bonus animals, objects and an additional pack of endangered species.

The sequel, Zoo Tycoon 2 (2004), brought the franchise into the world of 3D graphics 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). Just like with the previous titles, the sequel and its expansions were mixed into one big Updated Re Release named Zoo Tycoon 2: Ultimate Collection.

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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 version later had an enhanced remake titled Ultimate Animal Collection in 2017 containing additional animals from Australia and South America.


The games provide examples of:

  • 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.
    • The female bongo antelopes in the second game have horns that are just as long as they males’. In real life, female bongos usually have shorter horns than males. This is particularly odd considering not only did the second game fix most of the Gender Bender errors of the first, but the bongos in the first game were actually correctly sexually dimorphic.
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    • Also in the second game, both male and female okapis have horns.
  • 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 for whatever reason). Aurochs cows in the "Extinct Animals" expansion have a visible udder, but it doesn't have any teats.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Many scenarios in the second game begin with an already established zoo that contains popular - oftentimes endangered - animals that otherwise couldn't be adopted in the beginning of the scenario, but will help attract visitors while you expand the zoo.
    • In the first game, sometimes guests wander into your way while trying to build things and you have to wait for them to move, which can actually get tricky because often when they move out of the way more guests will wander into the same spot. The Marine Mania expansion (and possibly the Dinosaur Digs expansion) adds an option to pick guests up and move them out of your way. This also can be used to move guests with a unmet need near the relevant building they need.
  • 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 an animal/food dish/poo for no reason at all, instead choosing to run around the sides of the exhibit or just stand around at the exhibit gate. It should be noted that this is sometimes the player's fault if they forgot to add a 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, staff can be more than dimwitted. Only two zookeepers/scientists/marine specialists can be "focused" on an exhibit or an animal at a time; put ten zookeepers in an exhibit and all of them will promptly leave except for two, who will stay behind and take care of any needs that need to be addressed. A bit irritating normally, but it really rears its ugly head if an animal escapes; it's best visualized if you put a bunch of zookeepers on an island with an escaped animal, and then one zookeeper off the island. While the lone zookeeper will be uselessly trying to get to the animal and capture it, the other zookeepers will just run around and let themselves get killed. Fortunately this was somewhat fixed for the sequel in the Extinct Animals pack.
    • Zoo guests are even more annoyingly stupid. 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.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • There are occasional gaffes in animals' descriptions (Galapagos giant tortoises on the mainland?) or the criteria of a challenge (jaguars, whose breeding range extends into Mexico and possibly the United States, not counting as a North American species).
    • Mating in the first game is divided exclusively between "monogamous" and "polygamous". Real life mating habits are far more nuanced and complicated than what this installment makes them out to be, especially for the ones deemed "monogamous" (requiring a dedicated mate) in-game.
    • Animals do not breed during 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, presumably so the player doesn't have too many animals to sell.
    • Most animals have one offspring, with only a few having more, even if they are lions or other animals with larger litters. In the first game this is probably for balance, as selling your animal's young, or waiting until they reach adulthood and selling their parents, are very good ways to make money.
    • Many animals that are sexually dimorphic (males and females visibly different size, color, etc.) in reality, all look alike instead. Ignoring size differences is somewhat justified with the tiny models of the first game, but it's noticeable in the sequel.
    • Your birds, reptiles, and in Marine Mania, fish (barring some sharks and the manta ray, which do give birth, because the eggs hatch inside the mother), octopi, and squid 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, as does the primitive turtle Meiolania. In the sequel, all birds and reptiles properly lay eggs, but the blue marlin in Marine Mania still gives birth.
    • Despite its info article correctly stating that, like their Bengal cousins, Siberian tigers are solitary, they need a minimum of two individuals in their exhibit to be happy. Similarly, although its info article makes no note of it, saltwater crocodiles are solitary and extremely aggressive in real life, yet they also need to live in a small group.
    • Baby emperor penguins are simply a smaller version of the adult penguin model instead of a more accurate fluff ball. The second game fixed this.
    • Black bears and grizzly bears can co-exist in the same exhibit without attacking each other, despite the two being enemies in the wild. The two species do get along in some real-life zoos though.
    • Flamingos, moose, and anteaters eat hay in the first game. It's particularly concerning in the case of the moose, since in real life they're unable to digest hay and it could kill them. Averted in the second game where the flamingo is among the few animals to eat shrimp.
    • It's not possible to have free-ranging peafowl like many real zoos do. Well, you can try, but guests panic. At peafowl. It actually is possible to have free-ranging peafowl without guests panicking in the game without expansion packs installed, but after installing the second or later expansion packs, guests will panic when they see peafowl outside their enclosures.
    • You can give primates large bundles of bananas to eat. Most primates actually do love bananas, but most real zoos only give them rarely as a treat, and only small amounts, never as a regular food. The reason for this is humans have altered domestic bananas to contain so much sugar it's like giving junk food to them. The primates that naturally eat bananas in the wild only eat the wild types, which have far less sugar content.
    • In Zoo Tycoon 2, if you have more than one female wolf in a exhibit, they all may become mates with the same male, and when this happens, kill one another until there's only one female left. In real life, wolves are generally monogamous, and dominant wolves of both sexes will enforce this rule by preventing the lower ranking ones from mating, but if the male does "cheat" on his mate, the mate won't kill his "mistress" like in the game, but she may kill her pups. note  One thing the game gets right is the wolves won't kill their own offspring, so if you just want a normal full pack of wolves, you can put only one female with the male(s) and wait until they have pups. Alternatively, you can make a pack consisting of just all males or females.
    • Moose are unable to swim in the first game despite spending a considerable amount of time in the water. The second game fixed this.
    • Flamingos are one of the second game’s shortest-lived animals despite regularly reaching the age of 60 in captivity.
    • Marine animals who can still go on land, like sea turtles and sea otters, have a need for drinking water even though they have evolved adaptations that do not require this in real life.
  • Artistic License – Economics: In-game zoos buy and sell animals, despite real-life zoos using a barter system to keep the conservation of animals ethical. There are some scenarios that avert this by having animals donated to your zoo, as would be the case of many actual animal sanctuaries. While animal buying is retained in the second game, animal selling was removed, as the adoption mechanic that allows you to send an animal away by adopting it out to another zoo does not yield money.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • Some of the dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures inhabit unrealistic biomes. All dinosaurs require some amount of grass in their exhibit, but in particular the Ankylosaurus and Triceratops live in a savannah and the Tyrannosaurus rex in a grassland, although grass didn't evolve until just before the end of the Cretaceous, and even then only in India. Likewise deciduous plants did not evolve until long after Apatosaurus and Plateosaurus had gone extinct, and the giant tortoise from Australia, Meiolania, for some reason lives in a tundra.
    • The second game does a better job with biomes, but there's still some nuggets here and there. You can even make a Stegosaurus in ZT2 happier by putting a glacier in its exhibit, due to living in a boreal forest biome, even though such cool temperatures would be unheard of in Jurassic North America where it lived.
    • Kentrosaurus is dubbed Stegosaurus kentrosaurus in Zoo Tycoon 2, despite not actually being a species of Stegosaurus.
    • In the first game, Caudipteryx is said to have lived during the Jurassic period, while in reality it lived during the early Cretaceous period instead. It also eats insects despite being an herbivore.
    • The Spinosaurus is based on generic, long-outdated depictions of the animal from years ago, complete with a short, Allosaurus-esque skull, rather than the trim, long-snouted appearance popularized by Jurassic Park III, which had released quite recently at the time.
    • Several extinct animals are also inaccurate in terms of behavior and/or appearance (the likely herbivorous oviraptorosaur Protarchaeopteryx is portrayed as a strict carnivore, a consequence of it being recycled from the secretary bird).
    • Despite the extinct animals living in different biomes even within the game, every zoo from the city to the Arctic has the fossils for every extinct animal. Needless to say, no animals, extinct or living, lived in every biome on Earth. This is likely so the player can have every fossil available to build so they can then clone a young animal from the fossil.
    • The Stokesosaurus is much too large and bulky, whereas the real animal was only as large as a tiger and trim as a cheetah. Parodied when it sprouts a pair of glasses when interacting with the painting enrichment item.
  • Ascended Glitch: In the first game, ludicrously penguins kill most other animals when they are in the same exhibit, including animals like lions. This is referenced in the sequel with the killer penguin, a red eyed bloodthirsty demonic penguin, albeit it resembles a rockhopper penguin instead of an emperor penguin, you may be randomly offered in challenge mode or you may have a chance to receive when botching the cloning procedure.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: Protarcheopteryx in Zoo Tycoon 2, very much unlike the real animal, is depicted as a carnivore instead of a herbivore, due to it sharing behaviors and animations with the predatory secretary bird. The giant ground sloth Megatherium in the same game leans towards the controversial theory of being an occasional scavengernote , being able to eat meat on the ground in addition to various plant materials, when the animal was also a herbivore in real life.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Dinosaur exhibits seem appealing, but they take a lot of money to build and maintain. All dinosaurs are capable of shredding through the normal fences and require expensive, reinforced fencing—the biggest animals like Apatosaurus and Allosaurus are especially notable as they will even destroy those if they're not electrified. 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. That problem is especially exasperated by how many dinosaurs prefer being alone with no more than two other individuals with them.
    • 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.
    • Giant pandas may be considered the "Endgame" animal for your zoo, but they are very picky about what they want in their exhibit, making building a suitable exhibit difficult. They are also shy animals who don't like being seen by too many guests, and breeding them is exceedingly hard(though you get a big cash bonus if you succeed).
    • 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.
  • Bears Are Bad News: If you sic the bears on the zoo guests anyway. The first game has the American black bear, grizzly bear, polar bear, giant panda, and Asian black bear(as DLC). The second game adds the spectacled bear to the roster as well as Arctodus, the extinct short-faced bear.
  • Big Ball of Violence: Fights between animals are shown this way in the original.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti The yeti and bigfoot are two animals available in the Complete Collection.
  • 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-maintenance 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.
    • Saltwater crocodiles in the first game are practically a top-tier animal. They have an extremely barebones(and thus boring) exhibit, just requiring a bit of dirt, a lot of saltwater, and only a few rocks and plants, not to mention they don't even need that much space. And yet they, especially baby crocodiles, are quite popular, even moreso than elephants, and they have two babies at a time, which you can make a profit out of selling much like warthogs.
    • In the first game, any animal suited to the environment the zoo is situated in can save you a lot of money on terrain changes. For early scenarios, grassland animals are a given, while later scenarios like the ones seen in the "Advanced" difficulty switch it up.
  • Canis Latinicus: According to the Zoopedia, the killer penguin's scientific name is Eudyptes omnicidus. note 
  • Character Select Forcing: Justified in many scenarios, as they take place in sanctuary zoos that only receive animals via donation.
  • Cheat Code: Everywhere. From "shift-4" for extra cash to the various ways renaming exhibits can unlock special animals to renaming guests or staff to certain words, 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).
  • Covers Always Lie: The box art for the Marine Mania and Dinosaur Digs double expansion pack for the first Zoo Tycoon shows a mixed exhibit with African elephants and woolly mammoths together. It's technically possible to do this, but you can't make both species happy at the same time because of wildly differing exhibit requirements. One requires mostly savanna biome, and the other requires lots of snow and glaciers, among other problems like different foliage requirements. Trying this in-game will make your guests unhappy because of the unhappy animals.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The Dinosaur Recovery Team (in the first game) and the Dino Capture Team (in the second), designed to contain escaped dinosaurs.
  • Crowd Panic: Taken to an absurd degree in Zoo Tycoon 2. If an animal is stalking or attacking one guest, all guests in the immediate vicinity will begin screaming and running for the zoo exit. Perfectly reasonable if the offending animal in question has broken free from its exhibit, slightly less so when the guest is inside the animal exhibit, either due to bugs or player intervention. This can and usually will lead to a zookeeper making a beeline for the exhibit, tranquilizing the "offending" animal, and putting them in a crate so you can safely return them to the exhibit in which they already are. Oh, and there's no way for guests to exit the exhibits themselves - you have to manually remove them or the Crowd Panic will start again when you uncrate the animal.
  • Crutch Character:
    • California sea lions compared to the other show animals in Marine Mania. They're cheaper to purchase compared to the others and all of their tricks are available from the start. However, they aren't very appealing to guests, and their shows aren't as lucrative in part because they can't expand upon their shallow pool of tricks. Their low starting costs are also offset by the need to hire both a Zookeeper to tend to their basic needs and a Marine Biologist to conduct their shows, further negating the profitability of their shows unless both can be assigned to other compatible exhibits. The disparity between the Sea Lion and other show animals is especially apparent in the "Aquatic Show Park" scenario, where the player has to account for the different financial models between shows.
    • In Zoo Tycoon 2's "Endangered Species Zoo" campaign, any animal that isn't (critically) endangered will ultimately have to be released by the end of the scenario, even if they could still be used at first.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Extinct Research Lab in the second game. The building's $8000 price tag and $1250 monthly maintenance fees can seem daunting for zoos with small budgets, gathering fossil pieces takes time, and the animal cloning minigame gets harder and harder the rarer animals you try to create, but if you get good at it, you can make animals worth tens of thousands of dollars a pop for fraction of the usual cost. Completing the minigame with a score of 90% or more also creates a "Super" animal instead of a regular one, giving the animal a longer lifespan than normal and forcing you to replace dying animals less often.
  • Downloadable Content: Every game has some animals available for download.
    • Zoo Tycoon: Perhaps the strangest is Magnet, a polar bear based off of Baltimore Zoo's once famous polar bear (now deceased). You already have regular polar bears in the game, and Magnet is not much different except for a few little things, such as having an animation of him playing with his famous red ball. You can adopt as many as you want despite that it would more sense if you could only have one individual at a time, and you can even adopt female ones despite the real Magnet polar bear being male. There are many other downloadable creaturesnote  but all of them(except the sable antelope, for some reason) are automatically available in the Complete Collection edition.
    • Zoo Tycoon 2: The Asian elephant, musk ox, African leopard, Asian black bear and addax, which are sorted in a separate category from the base game and other expansion packs. What is strange is that the African leopard is substituted with a black one, considering that black leopards aren't a separate species and instead are simply a melanistic variant of regular African leopards. Which is egregious seeing that the second expansion pack Endangered Species introduced variant skins for any adoptable animals.
  • Drought Level of Doom: The first game's Marine Mania has the "Free Admission" scenario, where players are unable to charge admission into the park, and have to rely on alternative means of generating a profit such as shows, concessions, donations, and breeding. However, because admission fees are the primary source of income of any other scenario, this makes funds extremely difficult to come by no matter which options the player chooses. To add insult to injury, the main objective of the scenario is to make a net profit in spite of this.
  • 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 Utahraptor 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 zookeeper, most likely because it is a 2.5D top-down and isometric-viewed game instead of fully 3D like the sequels.
  • Easter Egg:
    • You can unlock Triceratops, Deinosuchus, unicorns, and mermaids by doing certain things in the first game.note 
    • Spinning the globe enough times in the sequel causes the entire population to scream loudly.
    • In one of the sequel's expansion packs, Extinct Animals, it's possible to thaw cavemen out of glaciers. They proceed to wander around your zoo like a normal guest.
    • There is a hidden gold brick path in the first game, generally considered the most beautiful path in the game, that becomes available if you put a lion, a Bengal tiger, and a grizzly bear in the same exhibit. This is a reference to the famous "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" line from the The Wizard of Oz.
  • Easy Level Trick:
    • On almost any scenario, players can clear the entire park in order to start off with a significantly larger chunk of cash.
    • Players that have trouble acquiring the net income to win the "Free Admission" scenario can sell off everything in their zoo at the very last minute, save the minimum necessary to fulfill the other requirements.
  • 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. Dinosaurs take it up a notch in that they're able to tear down foliage and buildings, reducing them to rubble. 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.)
  • Every Man Has His Price: A comical example: in Zoo Tycoon 2, looking at guests' thoughts after they give a donation to a killer penguin exhibit shows that they don't think of it as a donation, they're just hoping that the penguin leaves them alone if they give it money.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Dinosaur Digs in the first game and Extinct Animals in the second introduces dinosaurs and other prehistoric megafauna, although they're still referred to under the umbrella term "dinosaurs". Dinosaurs are popular with guests, but it costs a lot of money to buy them and build their exhibits.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins:
    • Also with 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. This made them a boring but ideal choice for a starting zoo, as selling the babies is a quick way to make easy money.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Using the right expansion packs and Easter eggs, your zoo can include exhibits for bigfeet, yetis, mermaids, unicorns, and Loch Ness monsters, alongside a variety of prehistoric beasts.
  • Fission Mailed: In an unusual, possibly unintentional, use of this trope, the "Arluq the Orca" scenario has the player nursing an adolescent orca whale after being rescued from a mass stranding. The problem is, because the zoo likely won't have enough prestige to adopt more orca whales, Arluq will suffer from loneliness beyond the player's control. If the player otherwise met all of Arluq's other needs, they will still pass the three-month inspection; however, the inspector will still address her loneliness, and give the player the additional goal of raising funds for Arluq to be released back into the wild.
  • 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.
  • 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 territory.
    • ALL of the secret animals (and the secret golden path) are attained in ways completely impossible to figure out without using a guide, and there is no hint in game that they even exist. The only one even possible to stumble upon accidentally is the mermaid, and that's only because rarely people get the idea to put the mermaid statue in a tank as decoration, despite the menu indicating that it's only meant to be outside for guests to view.
    • Obtaining the Christmas Tree on your own without a guide requires you to wait until the date hits December 25th in-game. Even when December 25th arrives, there is never anything that indicates to you that the Christmas Tree has become available, and it disappears until the next in-game year the instant December 26th hits. Santa Claus flying above your zoo can serve as a reminder to you about the in-game date, but he's not always visible and can disappear as quickly as he spawns. The player is at least tipped off to the Christmas Tree's existence because the tree is listed as the reindeer's favorite foliage, not to mention that one is prominently visible in the "Holiday Tree Farm" scenario. The Jack-o-Lantern's availability is also linked to an in-game holiday (Halloween), but what makes it an even worse case is that hardly anything in the game makes you aware of its existence.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Averted in the first game where large herbivores like elephants and hippos will go out of their way to kill predators. Prehistoric herbivores will also kill staff and even smaller herbivores apparently for the heck of it.
  • 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, a snowman 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...but not the animal itself, which looks reasonably accurate. What makes this example strange is the fact that the fossil you revive the animal from is clearly the famous Berlin specimen of Archaeopteryx. To make things worse, the original Protarchaeopteryx specimen is actually complete enough to include in the minigame.
  • Informed Species: The harbor porpoise from the first game more resembles a Dall's porpoise.
  • Jurassic Farce: Dinosaur Digs, obviously. Of particular note are the toilet cabins, which can be destroyed by the dinosaurs, leaving someone sitting on the can in the open like when Donald Gennaro meets his demise to the Tyrannosaurus rex in Jurassic Park. One scenario even involves you building "Jurassic Zoo", a zoo of only Jurassic animals, where one entrepreneur failed.
  • King of the Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus rex is an adoptable dinosaur in both games. This is one of the most expensive and hardest animals to keep happy and enclosed, but it's also one of the most popular with the guests. Set it loose in a zoo and it'll tear through everything with nothing able to kill it, but the sequel also makes it potential prey for the Killer Penguin and, for some reason, the giant ground sloth.
  • 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]".
  • Mammoths Mean Ice Age: In the original game's Dinosaur Digs expansion pack, the animals are divided in four groups based on the geological period they lived in- Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Ice Age (Pleistocene). Guess which species is included in the fourth period? Plus, the Mammoth is the only Ice Age species that requires to be researched (and will always be the first Dinosaur Digs species available to research). The first non-tutorial scenario Dinosaur Digs mission is exhibiting all four of the vanilla Ice Age animals(Woolly Mammoth, Smilodon, Meiolania, and Woolly Rhino; the game has two more Ice Age species in Macrauchenia and Megatherium, but they don't appear since they were added later as DLC. Also, they don't live in a tundra.).
  • Melting-Pot Nomenclature: Many guests in the second game. They all have a name that is a random combination of a given name and a last name, and since both categories include names from various languages and cultures, it's entirely possible for a guest's name to be this.
  • Menagerie of Misery: You can invoke this by making your animal pens extremely small, making the environment inside the enclosure as different as possible from the animal's natural environment, and by not feeding the animal. However, as one would expect, neither the animals nor the visitors will be too happy about this, and eventually the National Organization of Zoos will ban you from adopting more animals until you improve the current ones' living conditions. There are also several challenge mode games that involve fixing up zoos that keep the animals in poor conditions.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: A (mostly) non-fatal example; animals only seek out and harm adult male guests.
  • Misplaced Vegetation:
    • Averted in ZT1, as animals become unhappy if the plants in their exhibits are inappropriate to their native habitats.
    • In the sequel, you are encouraged to use plants appropriate to the biome, but the game doesn't care if they come from different areas, even separate continents.
    • The game places giant sequoia trees in the boreal forest biome which is highly incorrect. It goes without saying that California is not in the boreal zone and the temperate forest biome would have been much more suitable.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: It's possible to breed reticulated giraffes with Masai giraffes. The offspring can have either coat pattern. This is slightly useful if you're very low on money as reticulated giraffes are much more expensive, so you can buy one of each kind. This saves a few thousand dollars compared to buying two reticulated giraffes, and adds more points to your animal variety stat.
  • 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 crocodilian, though it was closer to alligators than to crocodiles.
    • The second game also allows for Deinosuchus to either be purchased, or create in the extinct research lab. Though unlike the real Deinosuchus, it has spikes because it looks cool or something.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted, because all animals in the game do it.
  • 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.
  • Not the Intended Use: While the game intends for you to build a normal zoo and make the guests and animals happy, it's really prevalent in the fan base to do things like turn it into a death park or a free-range animal preserve, feed prey and guests to the predators, drop guests into the fish tanks to drown, make the predators fight each other, fence the guests in so they can't leave the zoo, put dozens or even hundreds of animals in one enclosure, etc...Even if they play the game normally most of the time. Arguably, some of this may have actually been intended, or at least foreseen all along, since they bothered to program stuff such as the guest's death animations and code to determine which species wins when put in a fight.
  • One-Gender Race: Only female mermaids can be adopted in-game. (Though they are adopted differently than the other species, as the only way to do it is by placing mermaid statues in tanks.)
  • Our Mermaids Are Different Placing a mermaid statue in a tank causes a living mermaid to burst out of it.
  • Playful Otter: Sea otters can be adopted in Marine Mania, and even be used in shows.
  • Poison Mushroom: Killer Penguins in the second game. They can either be randomly obtained from failing the fossil-cloning minigame or if you accept the zoologist's offer for a free penguin in Challenge Mode. As a nod to a glitch in the first game, they will kill any other animal in the same exhibit as it, even able to kill a T. Rex, and the only ways to get rid of one is for it to die or for you to release it, which can only be done when it is extremely happy.
  • Potty Dance: If you see children doing this in the bathroom lines in ZT2, you definitely need to add more restroom capacity: it shows that their need is Critical.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Played straight in the first game. With the exception of Caudipteryx, all prehistoric animals need highly reinforced fencing to keep them contained. If they do escape, they will go on a staff-killing, structure-wrecking rampage, unlike the modern day animals which will maul guests but leave staff alone. The sequel averts this with prehistoric animals having the same fencing requirements to equivalent sized modern animals with no appetite for staff members (though T. rex will still eat guests).
  • Ptero Soarer: No pterosaurs appear as adoptable animals, but there is an aviary dedicated for them in the first game: the "Pteranodon House". It doesn't even have Pteranodon. note 
  • Raptor Attack: Velociraptor appears in the first game, and it's standard Jurassic Park fare, being scaly and man-sized(though to be fair all the dinosaurs are out of wack when it comes to sizes). 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 ZT2, free-roaming peafowl almost always send guests into a panic like all other animals. 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 being severely injured or killed). Fortunately, in the standard expansion packs, these live foods are things such as lizards and fish, which are less likely to fight back.
  • Real-Time with Pause: You can pause the game time and still make buildings or adopt animals.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Invoked in the second game, where sea otters can be trained to “look cute”.
  • Robot Buddy: The Dino Capture Team has a robot as one of its members. Justified in that it's used as a distraction for the rampaging dinosaurs.
  • 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 ZT2 boxarts.
  • Sandbox Mode: Freeform games act as an alternative to the scenarios. Here you have no objectives to complete, and can design a zoo as you wish in one of many maps. You don't have unlimited funds, but can choose to start with anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000. You also still have to research various upgrades, and most objects will only be unlocked as you progress. Marine Mania adds a "Kids Map", which is even more of a sandbox, starting you off with a few exhibits and with everything unlocked.
    • Zoo Tycoon 2 retains something very similar to the original Freeform, now called Challenge mode. Freeform itself is now even more of a sandbox, giving you unlimited funds and unlocking all animals and objects from the start.
  • 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...
    • Ultimate Animal Collection gives us a vast selection from Australia and South America. Australian species include numbats, king quails, magpie geese, elephant trunk snakes, and more, while South American species include agoutis, tamanduas, southern coral snakes, trumpeter birds...
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • While not done entirely accurately, the Velociraptor in "Extinct Animals" has feathers.
    • 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.
    • Gigantopithecus is portrayed walking on its knuckles like a modern ape, as opposed to being a fully-erect biped.
    • Aepyornis (the elephant bird) has a fan of ornamental feathers on its head, which is supported by the presence of small pits on the skull.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Using the "create cliffs" tool to dig a large pit in the first game and then surrounding it with the cheapest fence available so that it counts as a proper exhibit. Particularly effective with dinosaurs, as using the terrain tool actually costs less than using the dino-proof fencing, there's no risk of them or the guests shocking themselves on the fence, and they can't break out even if the fences break down (though the zoo staff has no problems with getting in and out of the exhibit despite the sheer cliff face). You can also use the terrain editor to add water holes to your exhibits and save money on filling water dishes.
  • Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying: The "insect" house building showcases three animals: scorpions, spiders, and beetles(in the second game only). Only one of those (the beetle) is an insect while the other two are arachnids, and the building even has a giant spider on top in the second game(the first game replaces it with an ant). However, in a strange mix of this and Shown Their Work, the Zoopedia article correctly refers to the inhabitants of the insect house as arthropods.
  • Speaking Simlish: The entertainers from the Extinct Species expansion of the second game speak in unintelligible gibberish. The guests sometimes do as well, but they mostly communicate via sounds like shouting and sighing.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • World of Zoo, another Blue Fang production, can be seen as this.
    • Planet Zoo by Frontier Development (the developers of the 2013 console game) is also one.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Played straight and averted; fan-favorites like Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus, and Triceratops can be adopted, but so can other more obscure prehistoric creatures like Meiolania and Herrerasaurus.
  • Stock Ness Monster One of the animals available in the Complete Collection. It's basically an upscaled, palette-swapped Plesiosaurus that lives in freshwater, rather than saltwater.
  • Take That!: If guests don't like your zoo and begin to leave, they'll mention going to an amusement park instead.
  • Threatening Shark: Sharks can be adopted in Marine Mania, and aside from, of course, the whale shark they are capable of eating any unfortunate guests that you dunk into their tank.
  • Trope Codifier: Aspects can be seen in later games in the zoo sim genre, and to a lesser extent, the related dinosaur park genre, such as: Animals requiring a certain specific distribution of biomes and amount and type of vegetation, a large focus on sandbox creativity and promoting animal welfare, and Expansion packs (or now days, DLC) giving the player more animals and items selected according to a theme, such as a shared biome or continent. Zoo Tycoon seems to have influenced and paved the way for all later zoo sim games to some extent.
  • Unicorn: Can be unlocked in the first game by naming an 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...
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • In the first game, a zoo that neglects its animals for too long will eventually have them confiscated. This presents a problem in "Save The Zoo", where the animals are already in run down exhibits, which need to be fixed before the player can adopt more animals. Take too long to fix these exhibits (or build new ones), and the animals will be taken away, thus making it impossible to meet the condition for adopting more animals.
    • Some Zoo Tycoon 2 players with the Endangered Species expansion pack cannot adopt a Galapagos giant tortoise at all. Attempting it causes the game to freeze or crash. This glitch unfortunately has never been fixed, and makes one scenario that requires breeding them unwinnable. You need to complete this scenario to unlock the very useful Conservation Breeding Center. Mitigating this somewhat, this animal is not well liked among players anyway, as its slow walking speed makes it take forever to get its needs met.
    • One of the challenges in the second game's Challenge Mode is to take three pictures of guests doing different things. While two of them can be easily taken (a guest mimicking an animal, and a guest dancing next to a music rock decoration), the third requires you to take a picture of a guest talking to a hand puppet gift item, a behavior that was coded into the game for a small selection of hand puppets, but the others were not correctly coded in. Fortunately, you are able to decline the challenge and move on to a different one through a drop-down in Photo Safari mode.
    • If you spend too much of your money and don't have enough animals and/or things to sell to get some back, you can be put in a situation where you cannot buy more animals and things, and if you don't have enough animals because they all died or something, you cannot even slowly make money because you won't get enough guests. The only solution other than restarting or loading a save file is to use the shift-F4 cheat code.
    • It is possible to sell all your animals, then spend all your remaining money lowering and/or raising the ground, and be forever left with nothing but a bunch of empty space that looks like its been through the biggest earthquake ever, though there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to ever want to do this.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • In Zoo Tycoon 2, the game will inform you if an animal is not contained. It will then say that guests won't view animals that aren't contained in exhibits. Apparently, loose animals is not something guests to pay attention to. Even if they're carnivorous.
    • In the Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals expansion pack, you can get cavemen from glaciers. Once they thaw out, or if you manually remove them, they'll walk around the zoo like any other guest and no one will bat an eye at them.
    • Zoo Tycoon features unicorns, yetis, Bigfoots, etc... Yet exhibits containing such amazing creatures are not swarming with guests. Heck, seeing dinosaurs and Nessies in a zoo is mundane for them. Datamining reveals some truly absurd cases, in which saltwater crocodiles, on an attractive scale of 60 out of 120, are more popular than an Ankylosaurus, which only hits 20.
  • 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 can pretty much 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 in the first game will result in the National Organization of Zoos banning you from adopting more animals. 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 Hit a Girl / Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Animals don't attack female guests or children of both genders, although they still will run and scream in a panic near any escaped animals.
  • You Are Number 6: The default name of the animals are basically "[Species Name] [Number]". For example: Nile Crocodile 1, or Polar Bear 4. Guests in the first game are also referred to this, i.e. Guest 53.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Some items you have to research for no logical reason. Why do larger concrete shelters need to be researched when the normal concrete shelters can be built just fine?

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