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Zoo Tycoon dev worked with real-life zookeepers

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Frontier Developments, the studio behind Zoo Tycoon, worked to make the game authentic by consulting with real-life zookeepers and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), according to a post on Xbox Wire.

In the developer diary above, individuals from Frontier explain how they incorporated real animal behaviors, zoo environments and zookeeper tasks in Zoo Tycoon. For example, the in-game zoos feature "enrichment," which is "just a fancy word for toys for the animals to play with," according to Christine Anne, a zookeeper at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

The idea, according to Frontier, was to make Zoo Tycoon a fun, engaging game, but also one that raises awareness of issues like conservation and animal welfare. To that end, the studio included a donation drive in the form of community challenges in the game.

A round of voting determined that Zoo Tycoon players want to contribute to the AZA's Tiger Species Survival Program, so if they can collectively release 10,000 Sumatran tigers into the wild in the game by March 31, Microsoft will donate $10,000 to the Tiger Species Survival Program's Tiger Conservation Campaign. According to the AZA, the funds will be used for efforts such as protecting existing tiger species and helping their populations recover.

"We appreciate that Zoo Tycoon is increasing awareness of these issues through the community challenges, and we hope that players work together and take with them these strong conservation messages so they can have a direct impact on the future of tigers and other species in their real-world habitats," said Dr. Tara Harris, coordinator of the Tiger Species Survival Program and director of conservation at the Minnesota Zoo.

For more on Zoo Tycoon, check out our full review of the Xbox One version.