Developer Journal: Exhibit Animals


Community Manager
Good afternoon, and welcome to our latest Developer Journal! Our Developer Journals showcase different aspects of Planet Zoo and invite you to learn more about them. In this Developer Journal, we will be learning more about Exhibit Animals!

Meet our resident Exhibit Animal Expert: Programmer Henry Bell!


Hey everybody, thanks for having me on for a Developer Journal!

In Planet Zoo, we want to give you the ability to create your dream zoo, and none would be complete without its smaller inhabitants. That's why exhibit animals have been a big part of our vision from the very beginning of development. Exhibits are glass vivariums that can be used to house your smaller animals such as snakes, lizards, spiders, and more. While they may be small in size, they're certainly not lacking in depth. Exhibit animals share a lot of the same traits and behaviours as habitat animals, like nutritional needs, breeding (when their conditions are right), genetic inheritance and a variety of welfare factors that you'll need to be mindful of when constructing your zoos.

Thanks to a great deal of research, Planet Zoo will include a wide variety of eye-catching, fun, and interesting exhibit animals that will make an exciting addition to your zoos.

One of the main differences between exhibit animals and habitat animals is the way that they interact with their environments. If you've seen exhibit animals in real zoos, you will probably notice that they very rarely move. Instead, they prefer to spend their time hiding out of sight, camouflaged by their environment. We chose to embrace this and developed a new positioning system for exhibit animals that stimulates this behaviour. This means that you'll often find your exhibit animals hiding under foliage or in crevices, basking under UV lamps, or maybe even hanging from branches like vines! In order to capture that positioning behaviour authentically, we needed to give our animals the ability to find suitable locations inside their exhibit to spend their time and rest. When choosing new locations to spend their time, we've had to consider factors like their species, their obstacle traversal abilities, their size, and any enrichment or backdrops in the exhibit. This proved challenging when working with environments as complex and dense as those found in the exhibits.

However, through the collaboration of multiple game development disciplines, we’ve created the tools and technology necessary to make our exhibit animals hide and rest in all the weird and wonderful places you’d expect to find them doing so in a real zoo!

All the animals in Planet Zoo, regardless of whether they live in a habitat or an exhibit, have a variety of requirements that you’ll need to fulfill. These can be found in the animal information panel in the form of welfare sliders. While habitat animals and exhibit animals share a lot of these, there are some differences.

As the exhibits are completely enclosed, they have their own mini climates. It’s your responsibility to adjust the internal temperature and humidity of your exhibits to keep your animals healthy and happy. This is especially important for animals who come from extreme climates such as rainforests or deserts. Additionally, you’ll be able to use the exhibit information panel to add things like enrichment and backdrops to make your animals feel more at home.

Assigning vets to research your animals is an important part of Planet Zoo. The more you research a species, the more you’ll learn about their natural habitat and how they live in the wild. This will give you access to bespoke exhibit enrichment that will make your animals feel more at home, boost their welfare, and make their environment look even better! In addition to enrichment, you’ll also unlock the ability to customise your exhibits by replacing unused windows with 2D and 3D backdrop facades designed to replicate the animal’s natural habitat. To make your exhibits look great on the outside, you can decorate them using the piece-by-piece building system and modify the landscape around them using the terrain tool. This is where you can really put your unique stamp on your exhibits and make them fit your overall zoo theme!

Breeding is another important part of exhibit management. It’s up to you, the player, to make sure that your exhibit animals continue to thrive, generation after generation. However, you’ll need to be careful not to let your populations get out of hand as your exhibits can quickly become overcrowded if left unchecked. Doing this will negatively affect your animals’ health and significantly reduce their welfare. Not to worry though, there are many ways you can manage your breeding rates. For example, you could use contraceptives, divide your population across multiple exhibits, or release some of your population to the wild for Conservation Credits!

I think that exhibit animals are an exciting addition to Planet Zoo. Not only because they have a lot of the same depth and individuality as the larger habitat animals, but also because they add great variety to your zoos! Not to mention the unique challenges they’ll bring to the management side of the game.

I can’t wait for you to get your hands on the game and I’m very excited to see the amazing zoos you will create! In particular, I’m excited to see all the creative ways you might use exhibits in your zoos. I look forward to seeing all the tropical reptile houses, creepy bug caves, and other cool creations!
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I still wish there were more customizble options for the exhibits. I was hoping they could be built piece by piece.
Edit: Realised you meant the small exhibits and not enclosures.

They can be. Use null barrier and build them with whatever walls/pieces you like.
I like the exhibit animals, they are great for at the start when you want to add something new but not spend a whole lot of money on it. Though I do find it a bit annoying that they get overpopulated so quickly. Like I’ve got 2 boa constrictors and the moment hey have a baby, they start complaining about too little space. I wish babies didn’t count towards their population or only after they’ve grown a bit.
I'm really looking forward to playing with these exhibits and finding ways to creatively incorporate them into my zoos! This is something people have wanted in zoo simulation games for a long, long while!

I'm also hopeful for additional exhibits with multiple sizes (for example: a slightly bigger exhibit for bats or a slow loris, a smaller exhibit for tarantulas or the frogs) that could be stacked and situated in different variations. Maybe even allowing for additional design elements to be customized!
I like the exhibits so far (even when they‘re still a bit buggy 😅) and would like to see some more of those. Especially ones that are differently shaped and not just squares. In my local zoo there are some what would be exhibits in PZ that are L-shaped, for example. Also, in addition to vivariums, perhaps aquariums in the future, too?
I like that journal a lot!
Theexhibitions are great, and I hope to see other shapes as well (like round ones, or triangles). As for the decoration, I was a bit sad at the beginning to not being able to decorate the vivariums myself, but there is soooo much other things to do, that I even forgot about it during the beta and was happy it's easy as it is now :)
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