Frontier's in-depth zoo simulator, Planet Zoo is simultaneously amazing and intimidating, especially if you are unfamiliar with the interface. Playing the first three scenarios is pretty easy and it feels good. You are learning and discovering and everything is great. The animals are gorgeous, your zoo is running nicely and you think you've got this.
Suddenly, Bernie appears to convince you that it's a great idea to start a zoo entirely on your own, with no help from anyone. After all, you've done a whole three scenarios, you should be fully trained now. Oh, and you need to make sure you have a diverse range of animals and happy staff and guests. No pressure!
As you survey the empty landscape wondering what on earth to do next, don't panic. The first thing you should do is pause the game, so you have some breathing space to read our beginner's guide and place down the essentials.
You cannot run a zoo without staff and staff facilities. These essential buildings need to be placed in order for everything else to work. Just remember that fussy guests don't like to see them, so try and place them off the main paths where possible. You can see their negative effect radius using the overlay in the bottom left corner.
Here are the buildings you'll need and what they do. Don't worry if you get muddled, the notifications will tell you what's missing.
This is where your animals are sent when you buy or adopt them from the marketplace. From here they will be sent to their appropriate exhibits. It's a good idea to locate this building quite centrally with good access, otherwise you'll be waiting a while for those animals.
Mechanics require a workshop in order to carry out repairs. They can also use it to research new zoo facilities, including new themes and buildings.
Your vets will conduct research about different animals here. Each animal you adopt will unlock as it enters your zoo. Vets can then research new enrichment items and other objects for them. They can also research diseases to help prevent them from occurring.
Here is where you can treat any sick animals and cure them. Vets should stop researching if there is a sick animal and move it to here or quarantine. However, if you see a sick animal notification it's worth checking if the vet is en route.
Some animals require a stint in quarantine before they are introduced into their enclosure. This can help prevent the spread of disease, especially if they are joining an established group. Placing this near the Trade Centre and Vet Centre is recommended for easy transfer.
The keeper huts are where your Zoo Keepers will prepare food for the animals. As such they should be placed near enclosures. You also need to make sure they are included in the work areas.
Staff require downtime so try and place these rest buildings near clusters of employees. A staff room near to your research buildings, vendors and exhibits is recommended.
You'll also need to add power and water generators to ensure the park is covered by both. Again these need to be placed away from guests. They have a large coverage radius but also a larger negative effect radius.
The guest facilities are less numerous than the staff ones but are still important to maintain happiness. Here's what you need to place when you begin.
An essential for every park. Try and ensure you spread these out as your park expands so all your guests will be comfortable.
Food & Drink Vendors
Guests get hungry and thirsty so you need food and drink vendors to help with this. You can also make money from them, which you'll desperately need. When you place the vendor it will come with a staff member but keep an eye on them as they aren't automatically set to work in that specific shop. Hiring an extra vendor to cover breaks is recommended.
You can also place an information point and ATM, which are helpful but not vital. An extra store that is merchandise based can also help bring in some extra cash.
Once you have your buildings in place, you can begin to build some exhibits. In this specific scenario attractiveness of animals seems important, but initially just getting some animals into your zoo is good enough.
The animals you can acquire will vary depending on the scenario, and will change over time. In a zoo where space is difficult to find, a few animals who can live together will help.
You can use the Zoopedia to see which animals will enjoy being in a mixed habitat; enabling you to build one big enclosure, rather than several small ones.
Creating A Good Environment
Cheaper fences are usable but will break quicker so can be a false economy. Certain animals will also break them faster. Anything dangerous is best contained within really good enclosure walls.
The easiest way to get an exhibit correct is to build a basic enclosure then put your animal inside. Once inside you can click them and the detailed boxes will show you the size, terrain, plant and temperature requirements as well as other things you may need to know, such as the amount of water required.
You can use the species, location and biome filters to ensure you find the correct enrichment items and foliage.
Once the animal is happy don't forget to add educational boards, speakers and a donation box to the viewing area. Donations are a huge source of income so don't forget them!
Staff And Work Zones
Once these basics are in place the main thing you need to do is ensure you have the right staff. Each exhibit requires a keeper, although they can manage more than one exhibit if they're close together. You'll also need janitors, at least one mechanic and vet and a vendor per store, minimum. Later on, an extra vendor and some security and education staff will enhance your zoo.
Staff will wander aimlessly unless told otherwise so use the work zone tool to make sure they stay on task. Some wandering staff to fill in gaps is a good idea but if they all wander things will go wrong very quickly.
Keep an eye on those alerts, fix any problems and watch the guests (and hopefully money) roll in. Remember that if you expand too fast you'll run out of money; so keep an eye on the goals, finances and any time constraints for scenarios and challenges to keep things in balance.