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 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 get 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.
- If it seems like there’s a way to visit other zoos, well, there isn’t – not really. Your best bet is to take a look at the Steam Workshop where users can upload their custom-made items, many of which are as detailed as the official assets. I’d love for Frontier Developments to implement a hassle-free system that lets players tour zoos up-close.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Want a more believable-looking zoo? You can make elevated pathways and stairs using the keyboard shortcuts “u” and “j” to raise/lower a pathway while the path building tool is active. Alternatively, you can click to lay down a path, continue holding the left mouse button down, and drag your mouse up to raise the walkway.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 an image of all the animals in Planet Zoo. (Note: the pygmy hippo, Thomson’s gazelle, and Komodo dragon are Deluxe Edition exclusives.)
- 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.
- 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. You can remove them right from this menu by clicking the red X.
- 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!
- 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.
- Education matters too. Vet research goes hand in hand with increasing your education rating and your guests’ 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Unlike other tycoon games, you can’t manually feed animals or clean habitats.
- 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.”
- If keepers aren’t cleaning habitats well enough, you may want to promote your existing staff or bring on some fresh faces to help out. You can increase a staff member’s rating by opening the Zoo menu (at the bottom of the screen), going to the “Staff” tab, and putting your cursor next to an employee’s star rating. You’ll see a little arrow appear.
- 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.
- 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:
- Selling and trading animals in Planet Zoo is a two-step process. First, locate the animal, click on them to bring up their summary, and look for a “Send animal to storage in Trade Centre” button below the “Call Vet” and “Call Keeper” buttons. Click it!
- Next, open up the Animal Trading menu (it’s on the bottom of the screen, right above your zoo’s money) and head to the “Animal Storage” tab. From here, you’ll be able to trade or release to the wild for conservation credits, or quick trade for cold hard cash.
- Note: you can’t ditch your juveniles/infants. You’ll need to raise your animals until they reach adulthood/sexual maturity before selling them off. Good luck!
- If you’ve started exploring other players’ blueprints and you can’t figure out why they’re locked, you may be missing upgrades. Remember: vets and mechanics can research.
- To take nice screenshots, press the G key to hide the interface and then hit F12.
Planet Zoo DLC
- If you’ve done all that there is to do in the game and you’re dying for more animals, good news: the first DLC for Planet Zoo, the Arctic Pack, is already out on Steam. This $10 add-on pack includes two story scenarios – one in Norway, another in Mexico – and four species: the polar bear, reindeer, Arctic wolf, and Dall sheep.
What? You want more Planet Zoo tips? I’m spent! This Himalayan brown bear breeding program doesn’t run itself. For more inspiration, go hit up the subreddit and see what other keepers are up to.