Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Imagine: Zookeeper is targeted at young girls and its focus is animal care. Players find sick or hurt animals in the wild and bring them back to a preserve where they can be treated and fed in safety. The game’s characters, including the player’s avatar and her many colleagues at the preserve, are all kind-hearted animal lovers who never show any sign of cruelty or ill will. The game isn’t quite as educational as one might hope, given its theme, but it is completely free of violence, bad language, and sexuality. Plus, it’s a cinch to learn.
What's it about?
IMAGINE: ZOOKEEPER, yet another entry in Ubisoft’s quickly growing line of Imagine games for girls, is a simple animal care adventure. It puts players in the role of a young zookeeper who is recruited to join a nature preserve. Her job is to explore the wilderness, documenting animals and taking sick creatures back to camp where they’re treated and cared for. Out in the wild, players take stock of animals in helicopter flyovers, track them by their footprints, cautiously approach them, and pet and examine them to gain their trust and see if they require medical attention. Should they need immediate help, you’ll hop into a jeep and drive them back. All of these activities take the form of simple touch-screen minigames. Back at camp, players get to construct customized buildings, including enclosures, watering holes, and medical facilities, again, using simple touch-screen controls. Preserve management performance is graded with stars, which are awarded when animals are given adequate food and water, are properly cared for, and when all buildings have enough energy to function properly.
Is it any good?
Imagine: Zookeeper is among the more simple animal care games available, leading players through quick and easy missions in the wilderness and holding their hands through camp construction and animal care. It does a good job of keeping players in the action and out of menus; players will be sent on their first exploration mission within a couple of minutes of powering up the game, and there’s never more than a few lines of text to be read between events.
Plus, the graphics are great. Zebras, lions, giraffes, and koalas animate nicely and appear surprisingly large on the DS’ tiny screen. Plus, they react to our interactions with genuine emotions, moving their heads into our strokes and rolling over to show us their bellies when happy. It’s a bit low on educational content—we’ve seen evolving animal encyclopedias in similarly themed games—but its accessibility and fast-paced action ought to appeal to young animal lovers.
Online interaction: Not an issue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it takes to look after animals. Do you think it’s as easy as the game makes it appear?
How realistic do you think this game is? Do you think that a sick wild lion would allow a human to walk up to it and take it back to an enclosure for medical treatment? Is there any way the game could have been made a bit more realistic and retain its all-ages appeal?
Did this game give you any ideas about what you want to do when you get older?
- Platforms: Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
- Subjects: Science: animals, biology
Hobbies: building, pets
Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, investigation
Emotional Development: empathy
Self-Direction: initiative, set objectives, work to achieve goals
- Price: $29.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: October 6, 2009
- Genre: Girl
- ESRB rating: E for (No Descriptors)
For kids who love animals
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.