Zoo Tycoon is an business simulation computer game developed by Blue Fang Games and released by Microsoft Game Studios. It is a tycoon game in which the player must run a zoo, and try to make a profit. Although first released for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh in 2001, it was ported to the Nintendo DS in 2005. It was followed by two expansion packs, Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur Digs and Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania, which were released in 2002, as well as a sequel, Zoo Tycoon 2, released in 2004.
The goal of Zoo Tycoon is to create a thriving zoo by building exhibits to accommodate animals and keeping the guests happy. Exhibit building is one of the primary goals of Zoo Tycoon. To keep the guests and animals happy, exhibits should be suitable to the animal; for example, a lion is best suited to a savanna environment. Choices in terrain, foliage, rocks, shelters, and toys all contribute to the suitability of an exhibit and the happiness of the animal. Guest happiness is dependent on animal choice, buildings, and scenery. Buildings may include bathrooms, restaurants and food stands, shops, or entertainment buildings such as movie theaters. Scenery involves aesthetics that raise guest happiness slightly, such as topiary art, lightposts, or benches. Keeping both animal and guest happiness allows the player to gain monetary awards and steady income.
There are three modes in Zoo Tycoon: Tutorial, Scenario, and Freeform. Tutorial teaches the player how to build exhibits and keep guests happy. Scenario mode has the player complete a series of objectives, sometimes within a specific timeframe. These objectives may include achieving a certain guest and animal happiness, achieving a certain exhibit suitability, displaying a certain number of animals, or breeding a certain animal. Freeform allows the player to choose the amount of money and the map that they start with. They are presented with an open lot with a limited selection of animals, buildings, and scenery. As the game progresses, more animals and items become playable. Additional animals and items may be researched, where money is invested to make them playable.
Zoo Tycoon was created in the wake of the success of the 1999 Hasbro Interactive game RollerCoaster Tycoon, which sold well for many years. Zoo Tycoon did well enough for Microsoft and Blue Fang Games to release two expansion packs: Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur Digs, which added prehistoric-themed items and animals, and Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania, which allowed aquatic-themed items and animals. Eventually, Microsoft bundled the expansion packs with Zoo Tycoon to create Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection which had the functionality of both expansion packs and bonus content.
Zoo Tycoon 2 was released on November 2004. Although released with fewer animals than Zoo Tycoon, more animals were introduced in its expansion packs: Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals, Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania, Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species, and Zoo Tycoon 2: African Adventure. The later two were bundled in the Zoo Tycoon 2: Zookeeper Collection.
Zoo Tycoon and its compiled Complete Collection also garnered several awards and accolades, gaining the Bologna New Media Prize in 2002. Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection received the Parents' Choice Foundation Gold Award - 2003, the AIAS Computer Family Title of the Year Interactive Achievement Award - 2004, the Scholastic Parent & Child Teacher’s Pick – 2004, and the Children’s Software Revue All Star Award – 2004.