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Tips & Hints

Here are some great tips and hints to make you the best zookeeper possible:


  • In Zoo Tycoon, money and happiness enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Money buys happiness and happiness makes money, just like that. A happy zoo is a profitable zoo. Trying to nickle and dime your way to tycoon status is not a good idea.
  • Put the animal information panel (which you bring up by clicking on the chosen animal) to good use! Keep it open while fine tuning a new exhibit, referring to the kookeeper's recommendations at regular intervals. The top bar shows animal happiness, and this should be green at all times. Keeping animals happy should be your first priority.
  • You can research and subsequently construct Animal Houses: buildings that contain various forms of animal life (each counts as a zoo attraction). Providing information about the animals in your zoo may count as entertainment too: Hiring tour guides has a positive effect on guest happiness.
  • WARNING! A single exhibit containing a single happy animal is better then having 10 exhibits with unhappy animals. There is no bigger turnoff for guests then to see sad, sick animals. If you let things slide for too long, you may not be able to get more animals for your zoo.
  • It is a good idea to plan ahead and leave space for future options. Beginning your zoo with a tight cluster of exhibits and buildings right around the front gate will only lead to headaches later...when you may have no choice but to bulldoze several exhibits and rebuild.
  • When enough money becomes available, think about replacing that dirt path before investing in foliage, fancy lamps and flowerbeds. Bulldozing the dirt path first will return most of your original investment and give you a chance to improve traffic flow.
  • Use the CRTL+G command to turn grid overlay on and off whike you are planning and building your zoo. The grid makes calculating exhibit size and placing everything in the right spot much easier.
  • If you think of your zoo as a living organism, then zoo guests are its lifeblood, rich in nutrients ($ $ $). Your zoo layout should encourage them to circulate everywhere spreading their money along the way.
  • Exhibits that utilize the outer zoo wall as one of the exhibit barriers can be considerably less expensive to build. This is good when you are starting a freeform game with little money.
  • Guests have a sight range of 10 tiles. Keep this in mind when building exhibits and observation areas. Extra large exhibits with lots of animals should have an observation area on all sides.
  • Each baby animal has the same space requirements as an adult, but does not count toward the maximum allowable animals in an exhibit.
  • Low height fencing can be used in combonation with another barrier (for example, a moat around a low fence, or sinking an exhibit a few levels into the ground) Animals can't jump over low fences if another barrier is present outside.
  • Freeform games begin with a very limited choice of structures, path types, foliage and animal species. More choices become available every three months so be patient.
  • Begin building your zoo some distance away from the zoo entrance. Space at the front of the zoo becomes increasingly valuable as the game goes on. In big zoos, it becomes the most valuable area.
  • It is next to impossible to get an exhibit 100% right while the game is paused. Getting the final few percent right usually involves watching like a hawk for happy/sad faces while adding the last few things. Be prepared to lose money on multiple little changes - perfection isn't cheap.
  • Always try to hire new staff as early as possible in the month. Even if you hire an employee on the last day of the month you still have to pay them a full months salary.
  • Building a new animal house for each available exhibit helps you push guest happiness up to record levels. You can change the exhibit in a house by clicking on the appropriate icon at the bottom of the House Information panel.
  • Remember to keep the exhibit free of poo. Each pile has a negative impact with smaller exhibits suffering more. Don't hesitate to hire an extra zookeeper to help out and keep things under control.
  • Lining a brick or cobblestone path with low brick walls is the best path/decoritive fence combonation in terms of aesthetic value.
  • The petting zoo and the Japanese Garden are the best all around choices for making both adults and children happy. However, neither structure makes money and both can only hold 4 zoo guests at a time.
  • Remember that each guest coming in will purchase 3 adult tickets and 1 child's ticket. So if you charge $20 for admission, then each guest shells out $70. Try not to set your prices too high. (Between $19 -$29)