Planet Zoo guide: Tips I wish I would've known sooner


The best Planet Zoo tips to get you started

Planet Zoo is a very good game for very good people, but disaster can strike at any moment.

If you've played the original Zoo Tycoon series and Frontier's previous sim title, Planet Coaster, you'll have a decent idea of what to expect from Planet Zoo. That said, this game has its own quirks.

To help you cut it as a zoo manager, I've assembled tips from keyboard shortcuts to obscure menus to financial advice that would've made life easier for me. Hopefully they'll work wonders for you too.

Planet Zoo tips for keeping your animals – and your sanity – intact 

  • From time to time, other players' avatars will come visit your zoo. Big tip: this isn't just for show! It's super easy to overlook, but you can actually earn conservation credits a coveted resource used to acquire new animals from the Animal Market just by saying hi to these VIPs. Whenever you see a "visiting player" alert on the left-hand side of the UI, click it, and then you'll get a prompt to greet them. Your reward? 20 credits!
  • Note: you'll need to have an online connection to see visiting players, and there's a daily limit on how many conservation credits you can pile up this way. It's worth the trouble.
  • You can also get credits from daily logins. Click "Franchise" from the main menu.

Planet Zoo: How to earn free conservation credits

  • You can add cool-looking windows to your wood, brick, and concrete walls (just to name a few). To do so, click on a wall or habitat, then hit "edit barrier," and look near the bottom right of your screen for a "Window" option. From here, you can toggle glass windows on and off, and once researched by Mechanics even use one-way glass.

Planet Zoo: How to insert windows in walls

  • As for making barriers climb-proof, many walls are inherently resistant to would-be climbers (you can hover your mouse over a barrier type to see this info). But for habitat barriers like Wood Logs, one of my personal favorite designs, you can stop animals from climbing out by heading into the "edit barrier" menu, clicking on the right-hand tab found toward the bottom of your screen, and selecting one of the "Climb Proof" options. Just be sure to choose the correct direction (pick "both" if you're unsure).

Planet Zoo: How to make walls climb-proof

  • Do you prefer building paths on a grid? Same! And there's a way to do in Planet Zoo. First, with the path-laying tool open, you'll want to click "Align to Grid" at the bottom of your screen – doing so will give your cursor a blue grid. You'll then need to click on an existing path or building in your zoo to sample it as a point of reference. Once you do that, you're free to plop down perfectly-spaced paths to your heart's content.

Planet Zoo: How to build straight paths on a grid

  • Okay, so say you made an ugly walkway. Say you want to get rid of all the evidence and take out the witnesses. How do you go about that? To delete a path, open up the path tool (from the bottom) and just click "Delete Path" – you can then erase by clicking.
  • Bonus tip: you can remove water much the same way (or by clicking your scroll wheel).

Planet Zoo: How to delete a path

  • Are you getting a "terrain modification failed" error when you try to place paths? This was driving me nuts too. Try turning off the "Flatten Terrain" and "Tunneling" toggles inside the path-laying menu. If you still can't make new paths that connect to your existing ones, try deleting the original path and starting again with those options off.

Planet Zoo: How to fix the "terrain modification failed" error

  • There's a trick to get your barriers/fences to sit nicely near your paths. The toggle is called "Snap Alongside Barriers" and it's located in the path tool, so open that up. You'll then need to click the right-hand tab and scroll down the list to find the option.

Planet Zoo: How to snap fences to paths

  • Okay, just a few more control tips: you can painlessly decrease/increase the size of the terrain painter and the terrain sculptor using the bracket keys, [ and ] respectively.
  • You can also raise/lower objects by holding the shift key while moving them around. This is so helpful for larger structures that are comprised of multiple smaller pieces (like caves made of rocks) or getting trees to sit in your zoo at variable heights.
  • Also, if you want fine control over objects when rotating them, hold the Z key.

Planet Zoo: How to raise and lower objects

  • There's a vital HUD element that'll be way too easily overlooked by anyone who skips the tutorial in Planet Zoo's Career mode. See the radar button in the bottom left-hand corner? Learn it. Love it. Clicking the radar will give you access to lots of valuable info. You can see temperature heat maps, water quality, areas with (and without) electricity, details on how your staff buildings are negatively impacting guests, and more.

Planet Zoo: How to check the temperature

  • If it seems as if items like education boards, speakers, and benches are constantly breaking down, hire more Security guards. (Also, you'll need to replace them.) I discovered this tidbit after watching a teen stomp on one of my benches. The little jerk!

Planet Zoo: How to stop items from constantly breaking

  • If you're the type of person who reads guides before buying a game to get a feel for it, first: me too! Second: here's a list of animals in Planet Zoo. (Note: the pygmy hippo, Thomson's gazelle, and Komodo dragon are Deluxe Edition exclusives.)

Complete Planet Zoo animal list

  • To earn more conservation credits (and to feel better about yourself), consider breeding and releasing critically endangered species: the Bornean orangutan, Chinese pangolin, gharial, Himalayan brown bear, Lehmann's poison frog, Lesser Antillean iguana, red ruffed lemur, West African lion, western chimpanzee, and western lowland gorilla.
  • It's possible to breed an albino baby, but it's up to chance. There's even an achievement.
  • If you're wondering what size a habitat should be, it depends on the species. Find their Zoopedia file and click the "Natural Habitat" tab for exact details about their land, water, climbing, and temperature needs. (Speaking of, don't forget heaters and coolers.)
  • To figure out the size of a habitat before you transfer any animals, click on the habitat you want to inspect and tab over to "Terrain" you'll see the land and water area.

Planet Zoo: How to figure out the habitat size

  • How do you know which plants to use in a habitat? Click on an animal, switch to their "Environment" tab, and note the specific Continents and Biomes listed here. Now, go into the "Nature" menu (found at the bottom of the screen) and use the filter button to show only those Continents and Biomes. Note: this isn't 100% foolproof.
  • If a plant is ill-suited, after you plop it down, you'll see a little red warning symbol in your animal's "Environment" tab. If you're struggling to find and delete these bad plants, just hover over the plant's name in that same animal tab it'll be highlighted.

Planet Zoo: How to find the right plants

  • What about food, water, and enrichment items? The latter require Vet research for each species (though certain items overlap). Once again, filtering is your best bet.
  • Click on the "Habitat" button at the bottom of the screen, then filter by species. Done!

Planet Zoo: How to find the correct food, water, and enrichment items

  • How do you make more money? Well, if you're just starting out, don't bite off more than you can chew. Make a single habitat, get your animals situated, and have your Veterinarians research the species so that you can add the appropriate enrichment toys and feeders. Vet research will also go hand in hand with your guest education rating and your guest's willingness to donate money (the primary source of income).
  • You'll want to make ample use of the Conservation Education Board (throughout your zoo), the Exhibit Education Board (near exhibits), the Habitat Education Stand (near habitats), and Educational Speakers (all over). And Donation Boxes, of course.
  • I'd also strongly discourage building Food and Drink stalls while your zoo is still getting off the ground. They're pricey to construct, and Vendor wages quickly add up. That said, I would consider building an Information Center – they sell umbrellas and audio guides.

Planet Zoo: How to raise your education rating

  • Don't neglect habitat walls! They'll deteriorate over time especially if you play Planet Zoo at high speed and your critters will cause a ruckus. Here are a few pointers.
  • If you select a habitat, you can then click "Call Mechanic" to fix it up. Easy peasy.
  • Or you can click on a habitat, swap to the right-most tab ("Maintenance"), and change the "Routine Visits" option from "Once a year" to something more regular.
  • If you have a bunch of habitats, you might want a summary. Click the "Zoo" button on the bottom left of the screen, then mouse over to the "Animals" page, then switch to the "Habitats" tab. Got me? Good. From here, you'll see how every habitat barrier is doing, and you can click on the little destination icon to pull up individual habitat pages.

Planet Zoo: How to repair habitat walls

  • Is an animal's Nutrition rating lower than you'd like? You may want to bump up your food quality. The more you research a species (with Vets), the better food you'll be able to produce, but there's more to it – you have to manually change the meal plan.
  • Click on a habitat, then switch to the "Animals" tab, and change the food quality from Grade 1 to Grade 2 or Grade 3. If you don't have these options yet, you need to do more research. The higher the grade, the pricier the food, so don't go bankrupting yourself.

Planet Zoo: How to raise food quality

  • If your keepers aren't feeding animals properly, it's worth explaining their behavior, because it can seem nonsensical. "Keepers will work out how much food they need to prepare for a habitat based on how many animals are in the habitat. They will then prioritize filling enrichment feeders before standard feeders. This can mean that if all of the prepared food is placed in enrichment feeders, the standard feeders won't be filled."
  • Too many bundles of joy? Take a chill pill. You can give your animals contraceptives. Click on the "Zoo" button at the bottom, then head to the "Animals" tab. On the far right, there's a "Contraception" toggle. Note: you can reverse this at any time.

Planet Zoo: How to deal with too many babies

  • There's a Zoopedia shortcut to save you from having to scroll down the usual list. Click on an animal in your zoo to bring up their welfare summary. Now, look for this icon:

Planet Zoo: Zoopedia shortcut

  • What? You want more Planet Zoo tips? I'm spent! This Himalayan brown bear breeding program doesn't run itself, you know. Go hit up the subreddit or something.

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Jordan Devore
Jordan DevoreCo-EIC   gamer profile

Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random. Disclosure: I backed Double Fine Adventure and Awesomenauts: Starstorm on Kickst... more + disclosures



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