The Planet Zoo Conservation Pack DLC is the latest in a long line of additional content and updates for Frontier’s popular Planet Zoo game. From its initial release, it’s been clear that Planet Zoo has been keen to share the knowledge of endangered species, and how to take care of particular animal breeds. The in-game Zoopedia covers a wide range of useful and accurate information, covering extinction status, animal needs, breeding, and much more.
But, with the Conservation Pack, animal welfare ups the game and opens our eyes to how we, as players, can make a real-world difference. We spoke to Kilian Schmitt, Game Designer for Planet Zoo, to find out how players can support conservation efforts when they’re not playing Planet Zoo.
“Personal awareness and responsibility with our everyday interactions with our environment can go a long way in protecting biodiversity. Little things like planting wildflowers can support local pollinators and wildlife, and being mindful to not damage or litter when out in nature helps preserve local habitats. Some of our players are also zookeepers or otherwise involved in conservation efforts in their careers and education, which is brilliant and has a huge impact. Donating where possible to organizations engaging in conservation work is a great way to support them directly, too.”
Schmitt adds, “At Frontier, we’ve collaborated with zoological institutions not only for research on our updates but also to raise awareness and fundraise. For example, a few months ago we organized ‘Capycam’, a fundraising streaming event for our friends at Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity.”
What really strikes me, as a Planet Zoo player, is that the entire game, not just the Conservation Pack, has always honed in on these values. It’s important to keep animals safe, secure, well-fed, entertained, and in suitable habitats. If you can’t do these things, protestors will make it known you’re not looking after your animal’s welfare, and you’ll be penalized with a bad reputation.
While it’s fun creating exciting habitats for your guests to look at, it’s the finer details that matter. Do your animals have suitable space to roam? Do they have clean water? Are there enough enrichment items so they don’t get bored? Through research, you, as a zookeeper in Planet Zoo, can expand and build upon your existing knowledge to create a caring and flourishing environment for each species in your zoo.
“In general, our community is very knowledgeable and invested in zoos and animals, and we often see great discussions about certain species and the game’s conservation systems going in our forums. We have received some heart-warming feedback from players who have even credited Planet Zoo for influencing their decisions in career and education in the fields of conservation and biology. As developers, this is some of the most positive and rewarding feedback we could ever hope for.”
Planet Zoo Conservation Pack Five New Species
As it’s clear the Planet Zoo community takes a keen and active interest in the issues surrounding conservation, five new species have been introduced to Planet Zoo’s Conservation Pack DLC: the Amur Leopard from Russia, Siamang from China, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Prewalski’s Horse from Mongolia, Scimitar-Horned Oryx, and the critically endangered Axolotl.
“Conservation has always been a key component of Planet Zoo, but with this pack, we wanted to highlight the important work zoos do for the survival of some really incredible animals. When we choose animals for any pack, we look into not just their conservation status but their populations in zoos, their popularity with our community, and unique behaviors and animations.”
Schmitt continues, “We explored a number of species for the pack, and felt that these five animals represented our criteria perfectly: They all are species at the brink of extinction, or species that had already gone extinct in the wild, and are benefitting directly from the help of zoological breeding projects.”
The Planet Zoo Conservation Pack allows you to place all four new habitat animals and exhibit species within your zoo. We asked Planet Zoo’s Game Designer if there was more information available for the Conservation Boards to increase guests’ education and overall the education rating of a player’s zoo.
“Yes! Update 1.10, released alongside the Conservation Pack, adds four new topics to the conservation boards that educate guests about conservation-related issues including ecological restoration, invasive species, overexploitation, and species reintroduction.”
New Timed Scenario (Turtle Rock Wildlife Orphanage)
The Planet Zoo Conservation Pack includes an all-new timed scenario for players to succeed in. But, we have a feeling this is going to be one of the toughest scenarios yet, and for good reason.
Inspired by the Gorkhi Terelj National Park in Mongolia, you’ll be tasked with rescuing, rehabilitating, documenting, and releasing as many species as possible. Not only that, but you’ll also have to keep it green by only using renewable energy sources, and ensure that your Zoo has a high education rating throughout! It’s quite the task, but we know you’re up to it!Frontier, Planet Zoo
There are plenty of objectives to keep you busy, with a choice of easy, medium, or hard difficulty:
- Research 3 habitat species to level 2
- Research Przewalski’s Horse to level 3
- Have at least 8 different habitat species in the zoo
- Released 3 different habitat species to the wild
- Have at least 2 animal talks in a year
- Have at least 4 vista points in the zoo
- Achieve a conservation rating of 2.0/5
- Reach 20% plant diversity across at least 4 habitats
- Power everything in the zoo with renewable energy
But, aside from ticking off the above objectives, it’s important to keep your guests happy, otherwise, you’ll have no one visiting the amazing zoo you’re going to create or donating to the good cause.
“Guests that are happy and educated well will be more willing to donate. Researching all of the new species early on and placing education boards and the new education stations will help boost guest engagement with the zoo too! For new zoos, I recommend that players ensure they are assigning mechanics to research sustainable energy sources for their zoos, as well as getting creative with the sustainability-themed scenery of the Conservation Pack.”
Sustainable Buildings, Animal Behaviors, and Breeding
Although it’s clear that the Planet Zoo team completes extensive research by studying animal behaviors, wants, and needs, they also make a huge effort to widen their knowledge so players can actively see this in the zoos they build. Players are encouraged, not just in the Conservation Pack, but also in the main game and other DLCs, to place sustainable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines to keep things running.
And while it’s possible to create pretty much anything you like with the building pieces, nature items, and decorations, there’s a heavy focus on using natural materials like wood, living roofs, and filling your zoo with plant life.
“Many of the team have backgrounds in zoology so bring their existing passions to Planet Zoo, while some of us have found a connection to nature and animals through working on the game! For me personally, my family and I donate yearly to different conservation projects (often for Amur leopards), and we try to keep our garden as accessible to wildlife as possible (hedgehogs, birds, and insects are very welcome!)”, says Schmitt.
Since Planet Zoo’s Conservation Pack introduces a handful of new endangered species, we were keen to know whether breeding would be more difficult in the latest DLC.
“How easy or hard to breed animals are in the game is generally based on our research into the species’ birth rates within zoos and wildlife parks, so is not necessarily tied directly to an animal’s conservation status, since there may be other reasons for their low populations. Generally, we do adjust offspring and fertility data slightly for some species to ensure gameplay remains fun and manageable, in order to ensure the population doesn’t completely overwhelm the player. For these reasons, the Conservation Pack’s animals are easy or average to breed.”