The goal when creating “Zoo Tycoon” was to make the experience of a being a zookeeper as authentic as possible. The Microsoft Studios and Frontier teams wanted the game to not only be fun, but also to teach players about the responsibilities of running a zoo. To help, they enlisted the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation, to provide expert advice on animal behavior, including what animals need from their enclosures and how they need to be cared for in real zoos.
Today, with the release of a new developer diary, we get a closer look at this collaboration. The video details everything that went into creating a true-to-life zoo experience, from animal and environment authenticity and being a zookeeper to education through animal interactions and the Zoopedia. It also includes commentary on the game’s creation from David Braben, founder and CEO of Frontier Developments, as well as insight into animal care and zoo management from experts at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.
“’Zoo Tycoon’ is a great game that provides players with the opportunity to learn more about the world’s animal species in a fun and engaging way,” said Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “As a result of the collaboration between Microsoft Studios and the conservation team at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, players of any age will learn more about what it takes to run a successful zoo that meets high standards in animal care and welfare, as well as visitor services, while also helping to help support the conservation of these species in their natural ranges.”
But the partnership with the AZA didn’t end when the game was completed. Each month, “Zoo Tycoon” is issuing a Community Challenge centered on the endangered animals featured in the game and the game’s community is invited to vote for which non-profit organization they wish to benefit. Once the challenge’s goal is reached, Microsoft will donate $10,000 to the chosen non-profit organization benefitting endangered animals and their habitats. The community chose the AZA Tiger SSP’s Tiger Conservation Campaign as the first Community Challenge non-profit organization. Players have until March 31 to collectively release 1,000 Sumatran tigers into the wild in “Zoo Tycoon.” If they succeed, Microsoft will donate $10,000 in support of efforts to reduce the number of Sumatran tigers killed, displaced, or caught in snares.
“In the past century, four of nine tiger subspecies have gone extinct in their natural habitats. The Sumatran tiger, like the Malayan and Amur tiger subspecies that are also managed through the AZA Tiger SSP program, is believed to number fewer than 500 in the wild as the result of poaching and habitat loss,” said Dr. Tara Harris, AZA Tiger SSP Coordinator and Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo. “We appreciate that ‘Zoo Tycoon’ is increasing awareness of these issues through the Community Challenges, and we hope that players work together and take with them these strong conservation messages so they can have a direct impact on the future of tigers and other species in their real-world habitats.”
According to Dr. Debborah Luke, AZA Vice President of Conservation and Science, funds will be used for a variety of efforts, including species protection and recovery, wildlife rehabilitation and reintroduction, and working with communities to help them co-exist with the animals that share their land. If you’d like to help, just log into your zoo and start releasing your Sumatran tigers into the wild. Our team will keep track of the progress and let the “Zoo Tycoon” community know when the goal has been reached.
“Zoo Tycoon” is now available at all global retailers. In the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, you can now purchase it at the new price of $39.99 for Xbox One and $29.99 for Xbox 360.