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TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Zoo TV Poster Image
Patterson's tense doomsday thriller is campy but curious.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series hints at conservation issues by correlating the animals' strange behavior with their quest for revenge against humans. Implausible though the concept is, it does prompt conversation about habitat conservation, poaching, and animal rights.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even in threatening encounters with animals, Jackson is mindful of their welfare and never takes a life without cause. Jamie is relentless in her pursuit of the truth, despite the influence of naysayers.


Bloodstains and other signs of violent struggles between humans and animals. Some injuries and dead bodies. Many tense scenes that show animals stalking and chasing people, who use guns to protect themselves. 


Mention of previous physical relationships. 


Occasionally "hell." 


The show is inspired by a book of the same name.  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink to relax and cope with stress. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zoo is a drama series based on the best-selling book of the same name by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. The story posits that the world's animal population -- from the largest land predator to the smallest house pet -- could coordinate a mass uprising against humans in retaliation for centuries of hunting and forced labor. The show is rife with tense encounters between people and animals, but, though many humans are killed, glimpses of a dead body or otherwise gruesome content is rare. Subtle messages about conservation and animal rights are evident. Expect some mild language ("hell" on occasion), drinking (mostly to cope with the stressful predicaments), and bland references to romantic encounters. Mostly, though, violence is the only real concern in this thriller, so it's fine for teens who can handle that sort of content. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygreeniemom August 24, 2015

Overall messaging and scary storyline might bother some kids

As a network show, violence is often off camera and not gory but the overall plot is something that could unsettle a child or lead to nightmares. Dangerous... Continue reading
Adult Written bySarah O. May 27, 2018
Kid, 11 years old August 6, 2015

Great Animal Mystery

in this show there is lots of uses of son of a b****. there is some uses of h*ll d*mn and A** including very mild sexual references. such as the man Abraham sa... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byhappy100 May 27, 2017

Scary Story line may bother some

I started watching the first episode of zoo and I really enjoyed it in fact I enjoyed all of season 1 but after that it just became way too bloody and gory. The... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the African safari, animals begin exhibiting strange behavior that eventually proves fatal for an outlying camp of tourists. When zoologist Jackson (James Wolk) and his friend Abe (Nonso Anozie) set out to investigate, Abe is killed by an unusual group of male lions, leaving Jackson and the camp's lone survivor, Chloe (Nora Arnezeder), stranded and fighting for their lives while they try to understand the animals' odd behavior. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a young journalist named Jamie (Kristen Connolly) teams up with veterinary pathologist Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke) to discover the cause of similar happenings in the local animal population, from neighborhood cats to the zoo's most fearsome predators. As the signs begin to point toward a mass animal uprising, Jackson turns to his late father's (Ken Olin) discredited research for answers to the mystery.

Is it any good?

ZOO is a tense apocalyptic thriller that skips more common plot devices, such as natural disaster or nuclear war, in favor of an extinction method that doesn't get a lot of play on-screen: mass animal retaliation. The potential is there, since animals in one form or another exist everywhere (who knew house cats could be so vindictive?), and a carefully coordinated plot on their part to exact revenge on our species certainly would catch the human population unaware. If you can overlook the preposterous science, the implications of such an event do make for some decent drama.

Patterson fans' curiosity about this book-inspired series likely will bring many to Zoo, but reactions may be mixed. Though the premise makes for good TV, stories never watch exactly the same as they read. To their credit, the show's cast members do a great job maintaining the tension as events unfold, but they can't entirely compensate for the somewhat implausible theory that sets this series in motion. If extinction drama is your thing, then Zoo is one to add to your viewing history. If not, you may find the whole thing a bit campy for your liking. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about conservation and the environment. How have humans' habits threatened the existence of wildlife? Which measures are being taken now to correct that? Why is it our responsibility to correct that?

  • Is the concept of this story in any way conceivable? Why are the doomsday and dystopian genres so popular in movies and TV? 

  • If you've read the book, how does this show compare? What types of books best make the transition to the screen? Are you a fan of Patterson's work? Who are some of your favorite authors?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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