Planet Zoo

Planet Zoo is a game where you need to build a suitable environment for your animals and make it interesting and educational for your visitors.

by Timothy Cachia on 01/03/2020

The end of February is marked by many European countries as the carnival season, and since kids are off school, the family and myself decided to take a trip to the capital of Austria - Vienna. The highlight for my son was when we visited the gardens of Schönbrunn and it's neighboring zoo.

Schönbrunn is one of Europe's most famous zoo's, as it is surrounded by unique Baroque architecture, with the palace always looming in the background. Not only is it very well structured, but the animal enclosures are quite big and spacious. When we finally returned home, my son would not stop mentioning the trip to the zoo, and since I had not played the game as yet, we decided to give Planet Zoo a go, and sculpt our most memorable moments as a full fledged zoo within the game.

Since I didn't' play Planet Coaster much, I found the controls and the system of building enclosures a bit tedious. The game does offer pre-built blueprints but I personally think that if I had to just use blueprints I would miss out on the most gorgeous feature within this game - the huge customization options available.

In Planet Zoo you need to manage all aspects of running your own zoo, from visitor happiness and education, to the well being of your animals. You can play in Sandbox mode and do whatever you want without any financial constraints, or you can play in Franchise mode, where you trade animals with other players and research all additional scenery and utilities, as well as handle medical research. I opted to play in Franchise mode, which indirectly introduces you to the different content slowly, by unlocking it all through research. We do strongly suggest you play the tutorial and campaign as it not only gives you some great ideas on how to build suitable enclosures, but also teaches you how to efficiently use the game's interface and controls.

Like any other tycoon game, you start with only the entrance to your zoo. You need to place paths, design the enclosures for your animals, and place facilities for your guests, such as info kiosks, bars, food stalls, souvenirs, etc. I love the fact that you can click on any visitor, view the zoo from their own eyes, and even see what they like about your zoo, and what they hated. The detail is just astounding, from placing electrical generators and water treatment facilities in plain site annoying visitors, to something as simple as their bathroom needs being an issue.

The animals will take up most of your time, since you need to ensure the enclose suits their needs, from plants, terrain, their social needs and even ways to enrich their stay in your zoo. There are various tabs showing detailed information about each individual animal, their needs and even general info about that animal. You can see their age, their health, and their welfare, and at any time, you are given the option to see the animals on the market for money or conservation points. Conservation points are the hardest currency to get as it can only be collected through direct interaction with other player's avatars visiting your zoo, or by releasing animals into the wild.

Career Mode

As I mentioned earlier in the review, we strongly suggest you go through the Career mode before attempting anything within either Sandbox or Franchise mode. The game is not that easy, and the Career mode will help you understand the complexities of playing the game, from designing your scenes as well as keeping your animals happy. The Career mode is essentially a very detailed tutorial to the game.

The Different Animals 

At this point, if you opt to play on Sandbox or Franchise mode, you will most probably go for those big Elephants or Hippos... but essentially it is best to start with small animals like the Aardvark, Tortoise or Deer.  Big animals need more work, have more social requirements which you might not meet if you just started your game. Smaller animals are easier to maintain, and in franchise mode, they are more suitable to earning those annoying conservation points. 

Making Money  

Making money is achieved through your visitor facilities, or through donation boxes. This may sound silly, but whilst visiting any zoo, I noticed each enclosure had those large money bins where you can essentially see your coins go round and round until they fall into a hole in the middle. Whilst I first thought these were there for entertainment purposes, and yes for donations... I never thought zoos rely so much on the money placed within these bins. In Planet Zoo, these  are just as important, so place them at every viewing window or station in your zoo.


Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed a good tycoon game, from the original Theme Park, to the infamous roller-coaster tycoon series. In recent years though, not many really good tycoon games where released... or where just really crappy re-makes. Frontier have filled this void with 3 impressive games, from Jurassic World Evolution to Planet Coaster, and now Planet Zoo. I personally think Planet Zoo is just great and has just so much content, it will keep you going for days. The latest Arctic DLC adds some new Arctic themed Scenery and Animals for you to place in your zoo, so if you enjoy creating scenes which can later be brought to life with different animals, then this game is for you.

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