Zoo Tycoon

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Zoo Tycoon Game Poster Image
Fantastic animal and business simulation, fun for all ages.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about animals, conservation, business management, and teamwork in this amazing, all-ages, zoo simulation game. Kids will get to learn about more than a dozen species as they figure out how best to look after them. They'll also learn about conservation by breeding endangered species, sharing animals with other zoos, and eventually releasing them back into the wild -- all while improving their understanding of the economics of a functioning business. Zoo Tycoon delivers entertainment and education in equal doses while making learning fun for a broad range of ages, from elementary school to adult.

Positive Messages

This game fosters an appreciation of animals and an understanding of how zoos operate. Players get to research various creatures and find out what they need to thrive while learning about the basic economics involved in running businesses in general and a zoo in particular.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The zookeepers featured within the game are kind and caring people interested in taking care of animals. They don't talk, but through their actions players see what it takes to be a responsible worker in a zoo.

Ease of Play

Like any management simulation, there's a lot to learn. However, a series of 10 interactive tutorials lead players through everything they need to know. Also, once kids jump into scenarios they'll be given constant text notifications and visual cues showing them what they must do next. Just keep in mind that kids need to be able to read well and have a basic understanding of how businesses operate to play without frustration.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zoo Tycoon is a zoo-management simulation game designed to be accessible to and entertaining for younger players. Kids will spend their time designing enclosures for animals, learning about their needs, and even interacting with them via the Kinect sensor (required to play). They'll also see some good role models in the game's silent but responsible zookeepers and witness the economics of a functioning zoo in action. There's no iffy content at all, though parents should note that kids can play cooperatively online with other players.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 14 years old Written byOIiver September 16, 2017
Teen, 14 years old Written byAnonymous100 April 27, 2016

Love it!

Very realistic, fun, and entertaining zoo builder. The only reason I rated it four stars rather than five, is because it needs more room for creativity. You don... Continue reading

What's it about?

A modern reboot of a classic simulation game, ZOO TYCOON puts players in control of a beautiful menagerie of exotic creatures. Your aim is to look after the zoo, keeping it functional, clean, and profitable while also researching ways to expand it, adding new animals and attractions, and spending some quality time with the creatures in your care. A series of comprehensive tutorials leads players through all facets of the simulation. Then, kids are free either to start building the zoo of their dreams in the virtually unlimited free-form mode or begin taking on specially designed scenarios in the career mode, where they'll be given specific tasks and objectives. You may be required to create a new attraction to please bored guests, research and build a breeding center to help propagate a species, deliver items from the main gate to a concession, or just go take some pictures of your favorite animals for a nature magazine. A cooperative online mode allows kids to play with up to three others to more quickly achieve goals.

Is it any good?

Zoo Tycoon is an unexpected gem among the initial crop of launch games for Xbox One (although it's also playable on Xbox 360). Not only does it look terrific -- the animals are so lifelike you'll want to reach into the game and pet them -- it's also a blast to play. Building enclosures, outfitting them with interactive pavilions, and airlifting in animals to populate them is a ton of fun. So, too, is running around the zoo at street level, where you can make faces for monkeys to copy (thanks to the power of Xbox One's next-generation Kinect, which recognizes facial expressions) or drive around in one of the zoo carts.

Even the business simulation stuff is easy to understand and well integrated into the adventure. Thanks to some smart voice commands that let you call up key pieces of information -- such as which animals need attention and which buildings need repairs -- on the map, you need never worry about getting stuck surfing around dull menus. Entertaining, educational, and a pleasure to behold, Zoo Tycoon is a must for animal-loving Xbox One families. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about animals. Which of the animals that appeared in the game were your favorites? Could you discern differences among varying breeds within the same species? Are there any animals you'd have liked to see in the game that weren't included?

  • Families also can discuss online safety. What sort of precautions do you take when playing a game online? What would you do if you encountered someone online who you believed was up to no good?

Game details

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