How Do You Pick Your Animals?

Basically the end goal I have for Planet Zoo is to have an all encompassing zoo. Like, that's it, that's the zoo, the one. I want to build a zoo with all of my favorite animals. Please let me know I'm not the only one who thinks this!

Anyway, I can't really have all 122 species, even though I attempted it multiple times and quit because it was a little too overwhelming. So I'm struggling to figure out how many animals is the first thing. Do I think 30? 40? 50? Basically, I'm following the phrase that I live by till I die, "less is more". I want to have a higher quality of a zoo, rather than a zoo that sticks all the animals in and forgets about them.

I'm just wondering if anyone has any input on this. Basically, I'm just trying to get a zoo of the ground and running. I've sorta tried to start without an entrance, but that seems weird, but idk.

I know this is kinda random and all over the place, but any suggestions or input is appreciated!
I’m trying to do something similar, make a base zoo - or two - and stick with it, developing as time goes by and new things are added. It’s hard because I get frustrated with my progress, delete things (once accidentally deleted the zoo with the most progress) or change my mind about the direction of the build.

Anyway, in terms of what animals to include, it’s all about the type of zoo (a large city zoo, a small privately owned collection, a native species park and so on) and the location. Once those things are decided I know what species will or won’t be appropriate and decide accordingly.

So a Japanese city zoo will be able to have almost anything. A small privately owned zoo in the Danish countryside might have lynx and llamas but polar bears and proboscis monkeys will be out of the question.

Looking at maps and photos of real life zoos can help figure out what’s appropriate for what zoo.
I'm building my current zoo on a story. Imagine an old horrible city type zoo that gets taken over and turned into more of a wildlife park but has to keep the small, cramped boxy habitats for reasons of practicality (at the front of the zoo, no space to make them any bigger, maybe don't have the funds to anyway etc). I'm currently using those for animals that don't need much space, which solves the matter of what to put there. I'm thinking about building some pit habitats which you don't see any modern zoos but I reckon could be used for confident species in conjunction with hidden "do not disturb" signs. Then I'll move onto more natural habitats, the idea being that the glamorous, must-see species (i.e. apex predators) from the old zoo will be given decent, generously spaced habitats for the first time in their lives (may or may not buy the lowest rated animals for a touch of realism!), and after that I'll think about herbivores.

TL;DR I find it much easier going in with not necessarily a plan but a story to keep in mind as I build, and that informs the animals I pick.
Anyway, in terms of what animals to include, it’s all about the type of zoo (a large city zoo, a small privately owned collection, a native species park and so on) and the location. Once those things are decided I know what species will or won’t be appropriate and decide accordingly.
Well yeah, this is a struggle for me. If you asked me what my favorite biome is, I would have to say Taiga. However, a couple of problems arise with that. Number one is the climate issue, which isn’t really an issue if you build a tropical house. But the main issue is terrain, I hate, and I mean hate building on terrain or working with the terrain to build paths, habitats, buildings, etc. I have no patience for it. So I feel like building a zoo in the Taiga would be kinda counterintuitive since it would be flat. The second option is a city zoo, or just a classical zoo, which I feel is a good option because the possibilities are limited and the amount/type of animals are kinda constricted to different houses or older exhibits. But the one I always go for is the kinda basic, temperate zoo set in North America. This is good because it’s flat, but the possibilities are a little overwhelming, if you know what I mean.

As far as animals go, I know I can play with a decent FPS with 200 animals or less, or maybe even more that that. But, I don’t want to just build for animals that I don’t like because that seems pointless but the animal seems like it fits, and yeah, there goes the problem. Also, the organization of the animals is another thing. I like to have animals in sections, geographical mostly. So, I really like the Fallow Deer and the Lynx, but where do I put them? I think the best thing to do I just make a tier list of animals, and then use the ones from the top two tiers, or whatever amount you want. Basically, you have to make a top 40 or 50 animals. But then, the upcoming DLCs kinda throws a wrench in everything because then you might really like all the animals and want to add all of them, but then you’re defeating the purpose of only your favorite animals.

I know this is like nonsense, but the fact of the matter is that I have zero zoos right now. I’ve built many, only have completed a handful, but delete them because I prefer the idea of only having one zoo, as I mentioned in the first post, not little ones. And I think my biggest problem with building a zoo is building the entrance area, and then branching out of that, transitioning from that to the animal exhibits. I found that the new world style entrance (Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA USA) is the only way to go. It’s uniform, it’s clean, it’s modern. But then, you have to get out of that and build a “regular zoo”. Anyway, this probably makes zero sense, but whatever. Hopefully I can compile some ideas and start fresh on Monday!
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It is also my intention to build just one zoo of my dreams and stick with that. Eventually i decided to build a South-african zoo (i visited the country in 2005). So it seems logical to focus mainly on African animals and i avoid cold Loving animals (also not my favorite animals). With the exception of the Polar bear. But since i organize my zoo in regions (Congo, Madagascar, ...), many of my animal choices are based upon whether they fit into a certain region, what region needs more animals,... I try to keep different types of animals and avoid keeping animals that are similar. In my zoo i hope to have 70-80 different species if the game allows it.
I generally at least try to keep zoos themed, so whatever works within the themes I picked (e.g. I'm putting nyala in my Kruger-themed area but would use bongos for a more Congo/rainforest-themed African section). My current project is a taiga zoo set in the northern United States (waffling whether I want it to be Maine or Washington state) with a focus on North America, the Arctic, and to a lesser extent Eurasia, so that sharply limits the number of warm-weather animals I intend on using, at least in outdoor sections.
I generally at least try to keep zoos themed, so whatever works within the themes I picked (e.g. I'm putting nyala in my Kruger-themed area but would use bongos for a more Congo/rainforest-themed African section). My current project is a taiga zoo set in the northern United States (waffling whether I want it to be Maine or Washington state) with a focus on North America, the Arctic, and to a lesser extent Eurasia, so that sharply limits the number of warm-weather animals I intend on using, at least in outdoor sections.
Yeah that’s been an idea I’ve really liked too, building a North America Wildlife Park. For me, it would have to just include animals from the United States and Canada. Now, a couple of questions arise with this one. First, should the Fallow Deer be included, because they do live in the U.S., but that’s not what the game says, and they’re not endemic, so idk. Another is the Jaguar, which I’m leaning towards not including because they have such small populations in the U.S. and their environment really wouldn’t fit in. I’m thinking if we get maybe at least two animals in a tropical pack that live in the United States (Peccaries, Ocelots, Coatis) then I may include them. So it comes out to about 20-25 species (including the 5 exhibit species). So, you can have a wolf pack with 10 wolves, or a bison herd with 15 bison, etc. which I really really like the idea of. Also, can you imagine a little group of 20 prairie dogs running around! Btw, my inspiration for this zoo is loosely based on ZooAmerica in Hershey, PA, USA. I’ve been to this zoo several times, and they have animals from the U.S. and Canada. So, as of this minute, 9:06 am on Sunday, January 16th, I’m leaning towards a North America Wildlife Park. The areas are as follows…

  • Entrance Area (haven't gotten a name for it just yet)
  • Wetlands Trail
  • The Great Southwest
  • Pinniped Point
  • Wolf Woods
  • Canadian Domain
  • Big Sky Country
  • The Arctic Frontier

Also, I’m thinking about using the Jameson Wildlife Park map (empty) for my zoo, but that might be a little too overwhelming with the terrain.
Your areas and selections look great. Im quite jealous - you’ve got more sections in your zoo than I’d have species if I did the same for Australia :(
Today I’m feeling a small park zoo vibe. Not super classical or anything, but just a small hometown zoo with my favorite animals. I’m thinking 50 species to start. Tomorrow I’ll have a different idea, and this has been happening since November 5, 2019.
I tend to pick like fifteen species I think would be in a realistic zoo based anywhere in the world, and develop the rest from that. So for example, lions, tigers, rhinos, capuchins, peafowl, giraffes, zebras, some kind of antelope, ostriches, one of the great apes, and of course exhibit animals.

So straight away the obvious thing to do is to build an African section (which I always do anyway, because every zoo has an African section).
I always start new zoos themed around the newest DLC pack, drop them, and forget them until next DLC pack. Hoping that my new PC which can handle more animals will improve things... In general I find that the DLC animals are so vastly more appealing to me that I use them far more, especially given several personal factors:
  • My local zoo, the National Zoo, has a few ABC animals (Lion, Tiger, Asian Elephant, Gorilla, Orangutan) but is generally limited in that regard, and has an abnormally small African selection with no dedicated African area. This means I'm biased towards small mammals, which are mostly limited to the DLC packs
  • I love South Africa, especially meerkats and African penguins, which the Africa Pack handles wonderfully
  • The other zoo I've visited regularly, the New Orleans Zoo, has a robust African section, but many of its species are birds
  • I simply don't much care for the number of antelopes, which seem to me to all be pretty similar. Of the seven antelopes (not counting the pronghorn) that we have, I only find myself drawn to the Gemsbok, Springbok, and Wildebeest, mostly because they're South African
  • The DLC animals generally feel more well-thought out and very unique (not all of them, though... looking at you, Malayan Tapir)
  • All in all, of the big-ticket animals I've seen in zoos, a solid amount of them are probably from the DLCs (Sun Bear, Babirusa, Clouded Leopard, White Rhinoceros, Beaver, Sea Lion, Grey Seal, etc)
All this is to say that I'm biased towards DLC animals, lol.
I'm very contained by the biome in which I build :oops: don't seem to be able to bring myself to put cold animals in the desert for example (like Bernie and his Mexican career!) so I tend to decide what sort of zoo I fancy building, and then pick animals based on the biome - possibly very boring! For example, I've just started a new zoo - I used the career mode Myers Islands zoo, flattened a lot of it, turned it into one island which you access via a ferry. Because it's in the desert/Mediterranean, I'm going for desert/hot loving animals, and because it's an island, and somewhat low in budget, I'm not including big animals like big cats or elephants. It's going to have a Mediterranean style/holiday vibe, the sort of little zoo people on holiday in Southern Europe would go visit for the day, while improving their education about the animals, some of whom are endangered. Somewhere I'd take my kids!
If I'm just going for a "general" zoo with no specific theme behind it, I typically go for the animals I haven't used in any of my zoos in a while.
It really depends on the type of zoo I want to build - a general zoo with no real theme overall, a location based zoo, a biome based zoo, or something else entirely. Knowing my maximum habitats are going to only be about 40 habitats, I know where i"m going with that when I start. If it's a general zoo I have an idea if I want to keep it large or small.

Location wise, I think this speaks much for itself. I keep to animals within that continent, with three exceptions - Giant Pandas, Meerkats and Koalas are allowed in any location based zoo. I just make them a part of an "Around The World" section to give a little bit of variety. Otherwise these do tend to be smaller type of zoos -I often shy away from too many high costing animals due to that limitation, though there's always going to be a couple in there somewhere.

Biome themed zoos are something I've gotten more involved with lately. I have three, a Tropical/Aquatic themed one, a Grassland themed one and a Temperate themed one, though I didn't realize it on that last one until recently. I've been using it as more of a campground type of zoo with common animals from around the world. But I realize now, overwhelming these are temperate animals. I do plan to or have incorporated animals from other biomes, but there's definitely a theme for a good portion of them. Noting I've not really challenged myself on the tundra biome, and I end up being a bit more selective in a desert biome because some of those animals just won't take that as well as warm natured animals being in colder environments.

General zoos are the easiest and hardest. Easiest because all options are available, hard because that gives you a lot of choices. I've tended to start with Meerkats, Red Pandas, Aardvarks, Warthogs, Timber Wolves, Koalas, Kangaroos, Clouded Leopard, and Giant Pandas as my first most likely group I'm going to be starting off with, in general. Adding to that the Badger as well I think. Giant Pandas are expensive on the market but not that expensive in upkeep and their appeal is huge. Only once I making good money with my first dozen or so species do I look towards adding in elephants, Tigers, Lions or Giraffes - with that last one sometimes sneaking in earlier than that. I don't know why but I tend to hold off putting Primates in for the most part until the zoo's extremely well established. Ultimately my goal on these zoos is get to the point I have at least six of the big 10 that the general population loves - a species of hippo, giraffe, tiger, lion, rhino, elephant, giant panda, gorilla, orangutan, and chimpanzee. These aren't even all in my favorites, though most are, this is more of just what I think the big animals in zoos are known for if they have them. Of all of those, I wouldn't even think to put 8 or 9 of those in my first 10 habitats, the giant panda and sometimes giraffe being the exceptions. Those are "long range goal" animals if you will.

Some other type of theme, that's where a real interesting focus can come in I feel. It leaves you thinking outside the box at times and the mixture of animals that end up in those varies. I have one zoo that's a small "cute" animal zoo, so outside of Giant Pandas and Snow Leopards, there's not going to be any really large animals.

And that's all just in franchise. In sandbox you can do a lot more ideas with options toggled off and not having to worry about money or welfare if you don't want to. I haven't done it yet but thinking about an Apex Predator/Prey type of zoo - in separate habitats, but near one another to give an educational idea of how the real life environment works. And of course, zoos that just have my favorite animals in them; you don't need to worry about costs and you can have any animals you want right away.

edit: TL; DR - theme of the zoo is important. If you know what type of zoo you're planning, you probably already have an idea of a handful of animals you want to see in it. Sometimes zoos outgrow their theme, but that's only if you don't limit yourself.
Sometimes zoos outgrow their theme, but that's only if you don't limit yourself.
This is often a good thing, though. I often start with a "low budget" idea, with simple habitats and buildings, and as I get more into the swing of things and get more creative, in my head it's like the zoo is growing as it becomes richer and more popular. So at the start, I might not consider doing elephants, because they cost a lot to keep in real life and need a ton of space and enrichment, but later on, once my zoo is booming (in Sandbox, mind, so it's not "real") I might think, you know what, let's add elephants, or giant pandas, or a dedicated great ape house, or let's move this animal into a newer, better enclosure.

It feels like natural growth.
I generally go in with a desire to have a well balanced zoo. I do tend to go for more animals that work well for a biome temperature wise, though I may also create some special habitats or houses for species that would need climate control. Often I start out based on what's sitting in my trade center or which species logically work well together in a particular section of a given zoo.

I do tend to have certain "Favorites" that end up in most of my zoos. Canids (wolves or wild dogs), giraffes, otters, penguins. And nearly always lions. Plus hippos. Hippos are cool.

I have tried to create really large zoos a couple of times, but I always seem to smack up against the capacity of my computer (which is not exactly a sluggard) to run without annoying jerkiness and lag once I reach a certain size, and before I have been able to fill up the entire map or have all available species in my zoo.
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