Get ready to put your animal skills to the test as we check out the 10 best zoo building games out there!
I must admit, I’ve always fancied being a zookeeper. Hanging around with a bunch of animals definitely seems pretty similar to working with the Retro Dodo crew.
I bet the animals are tidier though!
There’s something about the majesty of a pride of lions or seeing elephants or bears up close and personal that I would absolutely love. The closest I’ve come is feeding some penguins, and that was awesome.
Making sure animals are happy would definitely be a great career, but do you think you have the skills needed to make a profit from a zoo?
Could you build the ultimate wildlife park, all while keeping your animals, staff, and visitors in good spirits?
Check out our favourite zoo building games below and find out!
10. Wildlife Park: Wild Creatures (2015)
Wildlife Park: Wild Creatures takes the 10th spot in our list, giving gamers the chance to manage a wildlife park on the go via their mobile or from their PC thanks to a cool expansion pack.
Like Prehistoric World, one of our best dinosaur games, this title is all about bringing extinct creatures to life and looking after them in a wildlife park.
We’re talking genetics labs filled with big animals and rare plants, and areas where you can train creatures and play with them using toys.
The game feels, looks, and plays like Rollercoaster Tycoon, except with animals both alive and extinct.
Work in every area from gardener to vet. I wouldn’t want to be a vet to a dinosaur, but that’s just me!
9. My Free Zoo (2017)
My Free Zoo takes players on a journey to bring life back to a zoo that’s on the decline. Save the petting zoo and make it the only attraction that anyone wants to spend their money on.
And once you’ve got to the later levels and people are petting dinosaurs, I reckon they’ll throw their cash at you by the bucket load.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a zoo director but never studied zoology, then this creative game will feel like a dream come true.
It’s not just enough to hold the animals in pens though; you need to feed and play with them, just like your Poke team in Pokemon Sword!
The more people that spend money in your park, the more you can spend on expansion projects and getting more animals in for people to pet.
Make extra money by building eatery areas, or go all out and get a show stopping animal.
Any zoo that boasts everything from whales to penguins is great in my book. Where do I sign up?
8. Zoo Empire (2004)
Zoo Empire takes the 8th spot in our best zoo building games list!
With what little money you start off, players must buy some animals and make a nice habitat for them.
Then, it’s up to you to hire staff and keep both them and the people visiting your zoo happy.
That means keeping that gift shop nice and stocked up!
Like many of the other games in this list, spending money on research is crucial to get ahead of the competition. You’ll also need to hire enough staff members, from guides to vets.
Everything has to run smoothly if you want to get ahead, and it’s a tough business to thrive in.
Career Mode sees players rising from zero to hero in the world of zoo management, a little like taking your favourite team to win the Premier League.
Sandbox mode, on the other hand, sees players making their own rules and goals, playing for fun and not eternal zoo manager glory.
7. Idle Tap Zoo: Tap, Build & Upgrade A Custom Zoo (2018)
Idle Tap Zoo: Tap, Build & Upgrade A Custom Zoo, as the name suggests, is a mobile game where tapping is the key to success.
This game requires zero brain power or hard work. If you can tap a screen, then you’re already qualified.
The thing that’s so good about it is that it’s one of the games that you can play for a couple of minutes here and there and not get too invested in.
Though before you know it, you’ll be straight on it on your lunch break like I was with Simpsons: Tapped Out back when I worked in retail!
Raise animals by tapping, sell them by tapping, and expand your zoo with a tap or two too.
Like the other zoo building games here, your job is to manage and improve your zoo by adding amenities for patrons and bringing more animals into the park.
Make money through snack stalls, keep visitors happy by adding ample bathrooms, and spend your money wisely to keep your zoo rising through the ranks and bringing in the Benjamins!
6. Zoo 2: Animal Park (2018)
Zoo 2: Animal Park has a different look to the rest of the zoo building games in our list so far. It’s got more of a Carmen Sandiego graphics style to it, even though it was only made a couple of years ago.
The storyline is very similar to Harvest Moon, though instead of your distant relation leaving you a farm, they’re leaving you a zoo instead!
And, to make things tense, you’ve only got 48 hours to turn the zoo into a profitable business or the mayor is shutting it down!
Make sure the place is spick and span, keep your animals happy, and feed them the right food so they grow big and strong.
Luckily, you’ve got a lot of money at your disposal to make things better!
Your mission is to expand your zoo way past what your Great Aunt ever envisioned. With seasonal updates and special events to take part in, there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more.
To be honest, I’m sold with the pandas; those guys have a great life!
5. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Wild! (2005)
Roller Coaster Tycoon doesn’t need any introduction, but did you know that Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Wild! existed?
Your favourite rollercoaster game jam-packed with zoo animals; just when you thought it couldn’t get any better!
This slick expansion for RT3 sees players building very weird and wonderful rollercoasters and lots of zoo enclosures.
Delve into zoo favourites like the Insect House and build themed sets based on an animal safari and the terrors of the Jurassic age.
This is essentially Roller Coaster Tycoon with some added zoo elements, but that’s a match made in heaven in our world. I mean, look how happy that elephant looks above; she’s clearly just had a cracking time on the log flume!
Keep your animals happy, get staff to keep the park running, and make people spend their hard earned cash.
4. Zoo Tycoon 2 (2004)
Be the ultimate tycoon with Zoo Tycoon 2, the 4th game in our best zoo building games compendium.
If you liked the original Zoo tycoon game, then the sequel is going to feel so familiar while looking uber fresh.
There’s much more scope to make a custom zoo in this game. While you need to build exhibits to keep people happy like in the other games, you can create a really special, posh-looking zoo by ditching away with some of the standard features.
There’s a mode called Exhibit Creation that allows you to do away with fences and opt for moats or ditches instead. The habitats look a lot more realistic than some of the other games too.
Ok, that fountain looks as though it’s jumped straight out of Hyrule Castle on the N64, but it still looks more believable than My Free Zoo, for example.
Zoo Tycoon is definitely for the person that wants to take their zoo building games career to the next level. Give it a go if you’re ready fo the challenge.
3. Jurassic World Evolution (2018)
Jurassic World Evolution takes things to an even higher level by swapping out camels and lemurs for genetically engineered dinosaurs.
Surely the science behind looking after them is the same, right?
This game sees players getting a God complex, playing around with genetic code to give dinosaurs specific traits. Will you build a park that helps to push the boundaries of science or just try to make as much money as possible by exploiting your creatures.
Building your park is one thing, but actually getting on the ground with your creations to problem solve in real time is something truly special.
Just don’t get too close. They are dinosaurs, after all!
The graphics are phenomenal too, far surpassing any other title in this list.
Still, an island full of dinosaurs isn’t everyones idea of a cutesy zoo, so Evolution has to make do with the bronze medal today!
2. Let’s Build A Zoo (2021)
Let’s Build A Zoo has a tonne of rare and interesting creatures for you to import into your new business venture.
And, with the option to splice DNA like they tried messing around with in the Mighty Boosh, you could have all sorts of different animals on your hands!
With 300,000 types of animal combination to choose from, you can let your imagination run wild. How about a RhinocerOwl, or a PandAligator?
I can’t think of a better way to keep your visitors happy than by offering animals that can’t be found in any other zoo either in a game or in real life!
Everything is up to you to keep an eye on. Decide what your animals chow down on (hopefully not people or each other) and even go off the book and operate on the shady side of the law.
I mean, is it really that bad if you do some illegal activity to make more money when you’ve already got a CameLion wandering around?
1. Planet Zoo (2019)
The results are in, and Planet Zoo is officially the best zoo building game on the planet!
I would say out of all the games above, Planet Zoo is widely heralded as being the the most immersive zoo sim of all time. The campaign mode is cleverly built and sees players spanning the length and breadth of the globe in their zoo building mission.
The zoos in this game are exactly what I’d want most zoos to look like too; spacious, open, and more like a big safari park.
It’s not enough to just put in a few shrubs from a drop down menu either. You need to do some research into the kinds of fauna that appear in each animals habitat. Then, it’s a case of recreating an area for them accordingly.
Watch as your animals raise families, and take control of a world where every decision has a knock on effect.
The building interface is super easy to use too, meaning that anyone can have a bash at this game no matter their gaming experience.
Ok, so it’s not as easy as Idle Tap Zoo, but the game itself provides a much more rewarding experience for the player, and that’s what matters most!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.