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My strategy guide is filling out nicely! I'll definately be adding to it but this should cover most of the basic questions.

Welcome to my Zoo Tycoon website, Zoonami! I don't have much strategy stuff up yet but my downloads section is functional. Soon I'll have a strategy guide for all of the scenerios (starting with the last (hardest) ones first. I also plan to put up screen shots of exhibits with "tough" animals so that you can see how you should keep these picky beasts. I don't want to be a site that posts the same kind of information as everyone else, so if you have any tips on what you haven't seen or if what I have or plan to have is soooo cliche, let me know: e-mail me

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Administration | Buildings | Exhibits | Animals | File Management | Staff | Scenery | Ratings | Zoo Design | Misc

Zoo Admin

Does raising the prices for things have any effect?

It's iffy. If you have a really "boring" zoo it does seem to matter. If you have an exceptional zoo, $100 won't stop them from coming (which can be a problem, see bugs for a work-around).

What level should I set research to? (Min, Normal, or Max).

Whatever you can afford! Some people do it right at the highest right at the beginning when they have the most money. Others take it more slowly. It's only a matter of strategy when you are playing a scenario which requires all the cats, for example - and some of the cats want toys and they all prefer the rock shelter. These have to be researched.


What Do Those Buildings Do?

The buildings are there exclusively to make you money and/or to entertain your guests.

  • Restaurant (and other food/drink booths)
  • Gift Shop
  • Gift Carts
  • Carousel
  • Animal Theatre
  • Elephant Rides
  • Compost Building
Keep the guests as far away from the compost building as possible; although it's eco friendly and brings in cash, it really really smells.

If you use any food places besides restaurants, you will need to provide trash cans for the garbage or the guests will be upset. Try to use the least amount of these buildings because trashcans themselves have a negative affect on happiness. Many people decide to have all restaurants and a few ice cream stands because the kids love them!

The other buildings just make the guests happy (especially when you research extra programs for them) which in turn leads to more benefactors, donations, etc. Remember that when you do the research for the animal houses (ex: Birds of Africa or Lemurs) you need to go to your animal houses and select them in the tab that looks like a piece of paper. The researched programs give the guests more happiness, so don't forget to select them!


How much time, money, and effort should I spend on the Exhibits?

As much as you need to! Having outstanding exhibits seems to get more benefactors. See the profit section. Although it might be best to make a bunch of exhibits vs. a few really good exhibits in the beginning of a game, do your best to buy animals that you are already familiar with and can get their suitability up into the high 90's. If you have enough of these, you will get awards and money from the zoo association. On the other hand, if you have your animals in cement floor exhibits with no plants, expect the zoo association to be very angry with you and not let you adopt any more animals!

Which cages are best?

Cheap fences = bad quality, expensive fences = high quality

I use chain link for the savannah cats and stone for the rainforest ones. I don't know why. Stone is a bit cheaper, but whichever I choose I try to use the zoo wall as much as possible. I use the "privacy" wood and the see-thru posts for herd animals.

The only really important thing to remember is:
Some animals BASH
Some animals CLIMB
Chain link and iron bars are unbashable and unclimbable. As much as I like the stone with rainforest foliage, do not put primates in there or they'll shimmy up the walls and escape.

How big should the cages be?

The bigger the better! I've actually never measured; I'm not a numbers-type person. I just eye-ball it. Don't go overboard either way; you may want to have room for many breeding pairs but even the most social animal can get crowded. 8 X 10 would be the lowest recomendation for the picky animals... but some require 10X10, like the cheetah. Small exhibits are suitable for single, non-breeding animals and smaller ones such as the anteater, kangaroo, and antelope.

What's with all the trampled terrain?

Animals that jump around and play and run a lot get more trampled terrain in their exhibits. Examples include zebras, gazelles, tigers, and chimps. Others, like the rhino, rarely smash up their environment. You have to replace the terrain that's damaged the same way you put it in, using the terrain tool. The only problem is in knowing which terrain is trampled. Luckily, only the "grassy" types of terrain gets trampled: grass, savannah grass, deciduous, coniferous, and rainforest terrain. Dirt, sand, rocks and of course water do not get trampled. If you are really stumped, as in a mixed grassy terrain exhibit, it's usually rainforest or deciduous that looks like "grass" and you should replace it with those two. Then check on your animals and see if it is lacking in any particular terrain. Then press undo and replace the trampled terrain with the terrain the animal wanted. The smiley faces come up when you replace any trampled terrain, not always with the same type as before.

How do I raise the Suitability Ratings?

Good question. All the animals have their own unique needs, and finding that out isn't always easy. The Zookeeper Info button (found by selecting an animal and then clicking on the guy in the hat) is your ally and your enemy. You must use it to get the general info about what the animal wants, but don't rely on it to fine-tune your exhibits.

95% of the animals like some type of plant, and many of them like a lot of different kinds. But the ones who like plants have a favorite, so be sure to give it to them whenever possible - some plants require research or the passage of time (in the free-form games). Some animals are picky and require that only certain plants from their area of the world can be put in their exhibits. Some will take any plant type (ex: savannah, deciduous, coniferous, etc) from around the world. You need to experiment. You find out where an animal or plant if from by clicking on it from the side menu, and there will be a map at the bottom of the window. I overlooked this little nugged of info the first couple of times I played and was always putting in incompatible plants with animals based only on the type of terrain it was found in.

Here's the biggest undocumented hint for making exhibits suitable:

foliage "overloading".

First, make sure the animals are in exhibits that are big enough for them and contain the right terrain. Then, press ctrl-g to pull up the grid. Choose a plant they like, and start putting in full squares (four to a square unless it's a huge tree) which will give you green happy faces. Every species is different in the amount of foliage it likes. After a while, you will see them give off one red frowny face on the first plant you put down in a square, but keep going and you'll notice that they give you green happy faces. This foliage "overloading" is a trick that works with all animals that like plants. Stop once they stop giving green faces. They don't necessarily give red faces, but once they stop smiling you need to stop. That's the biggest "trick" to the game, and you won't see it mentioned in the game or manual.

Here's a screenshot to illustrate my point. Notice that the two plant species, the savannah grass and the thorn bush, completely fill the grid square? See how the small rock, for example, takes up only one of four corners of the square. The elephant toy's base takes up two corners; half the square, but it takes up the whole square because the log moves in that empty space. The poo is right in the middle of the square. The point I'm trying to make is to fill all the space in the square with foliage to get the suitability ratings as high as you can. This only seems to work with the smaller plants; trees such as the baobab tree that take up the entire square don't make the animals happier, so always put big trees in first

Then add some rocks (the overloading trick doesn't apply to rocks so don't add more when they give red faces). This should give you suitability ratings in the 90's. Good luck!


Should I focus on just one group of animals? Some scenarios are themed around Savannah Animals or all cats, etc.

Having a diverse zoo gets you awards and cash donations! Selling off older animals (they're going to die in a few years anyways!) is a good way to keep your animals fresh, happy, and breeding. Remember that in the wild, non-herd animals such as the cats and bears don't like having other animals around them, and they will push their offspring out on their own when they are ready. I don't sell the babies, but I do sell the young when they are grown and crowding their parents, or vice-versa. Inbreeding in this game is non-existant, so you don't have to buy mates for the offspring, just wait until the parents have another kid (if it's of the opposite sex).

It's best to start off with the "easy" animals first: the lions, the warthogs, white tigers, etc. These animals adapt well to captivity and like to breed. Don't start off with more "exotic" animals (markhors, jaguar, pandas) or you will regret it. You need to have a lot of research done, or have to spend a lot of time, on these animal's exhibits. I like camels and gemsbok, they have very cheap exhibits to make (sand and dirt for the most part) but people don't really go for them. But they love lions, tigers, and warthogs. Why warthogs? Who knows.

Picky Picky! The *insert animal here* is driving me crazy! HELP!

Some animals are extremely picky about their environments, some are not. You can see when suitabilty is going to affect happiness by looking at the color, not the percentage, of the suitability bar. If it's in the green, everything is fine, but you should do your best to get their exhibit up to the highest suitability you can - this earns you fame, recognition, and cash! See the Most Wanted section (coming soon!) for tips on the more difficult critters.

File Management

What do these files do...?

Don't mess with files unless you know what you are doing! Here's a rundown on a few file types:
  • .ztd
  • This is the special animal or object item for ZT. Ex: yeti.ztd
  • .dld
  • These files tell the ZT game server that you have already downloaded that item. Ex: yeti.dld Note: Do not confuse with .dll files, which are different and messing with them can result in a broken game; worse, a broken computer!
  • .exe
  • Woah! That's an executable file! Your game won't run if you delete this or otherwise mess with it. Ex: zoo.exe
  • .ini
  • This is the file that holds configuration info for the game. zoo.ini is very important to backup if you ever have to reinstall ZT, because it lets the computer know what scenarios you have completed.
  • .(date)
  • I don't know what these files are for. They aren't backups of the file (ex: yeti.ztd.2001.11.14) because they are only a few k in size while the original files are several megs. You can safely delete them if they end in a date, or move them to a separate directory just to be safe.


Who do I get to boss around?

ZT offers 3 types of employees: Zookeepers, Maintenance men, and Tour Guides. The first two are essential.

Keepers feed and care for the animals; without them your animals become angry quickly, and that leads to a host of other problems! Avoid angry animals whenever possible, and you can only do that with a keeper to feed them and care for them. You can choose to assign keepers to particular exhibits, and this is a good way to make sure each enclosure is covered.

Their monthly salary is $800.

Maintenance men sweep trash, empty trash cans, remove old food from exhibits, and fix worn out fences. They are very helpfull but they are herd animals, so be sure you hire enough of them to get jobs done properly. I recommend one maintenance worker per 5 exhibits, with other factors influencing their performance such as the number of trash cans and the number of guests. Cutting down on trash-producing buildings (ice cream, drink, and food stands) reduces needs for trash cans and maintenance workers are free to fix the fences.

Their monthly salary is $300.

Tour Guides make guests happier by educating them about the animals. I generally only add them after I've researched the more advanced training for them, and they really do improve guest morale.

Their monthly salary is $500.


All of this just to "beautify" my Zoo?

Yeah, basically.

It makes guests happy, so just do it when you have the money!


Where do I find out my different ratings?

Here are the basic ratings in Zoo Tycoon:
  • Happiness
  • Hunger
  • Health
  • Suitability
  • Zoo
  • Average Animal Happiness
  • Average Guest Happiness
  • Zoo Rating
All of the animal ratings can be found by clicking on the animal you want to check, and it will pop up a box with the animal's stats. Zoo ratings can be found easily at the bottom of the screen. The green bars nex to the Zoo icon shows Zoo Rating, the Guests icon shows average guest happiness, and the animal icon shows the average animal happiness. Clicking on these items gives you more extensive information on each subject.

Zoo Design

Paths are good, right?

Sometimes. Small zoos with pre-existing paths far into the uninhabited regions may lead guests to their doom. They can get lost out there, with nothing to see or do. If there are baths leading to areas you haven't built up yet, use the "rope" fence type to keep them in their place.

As your zoo grows, so must your paths. They can be critical to guest happiness. Dump the dirt paths and put in red or white brick. Have two or three "lanes" of pathway so that the people on the move can get around the gawkers taking pictures. Build your exhibits with more than one lane of traffic in mind. You can put in the multiple lanes now, but that costs precious money, which is important until you start breeding those endangered animals. Also it looks kinda "empty" when you only have one or two guests on the big stretch of "highway".


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