AZA News Releases

AZA and Microsoft’s “Zoo Tycoon” Collaboration Unites a Virtual Zoo Community with Real-World Conservation

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and Microsoft Studios are working together to provide fans of Microsoft Studios’ “Zoo Tycoon”game series the opportunity to build their own virtual zoo and support real-life wildlife conservation field projects at the same time.

Available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, the fully reimagined “Zoo Tycoon” enables players to create their own unique zoo layouts, adopt and interact with animals, and even manage their zoo with up to three friends online using Xbox Live.

“When we created ‘Zoo Tycoon,’ we aimed to make the most beautiful and lifelike animals in gaming, animated to capture the essence of what you would experience when at a real zoo,” said Jorg Neumann, studio manager for Microsoft Studios. “We worked with the AZA to ensure the scientific accuracy of the game, down to the hairs on an animal’s head. Not only can you learn about the animals as you play, but you can get up close to our stunning animals with Kinect for Xbox One gesture control, creating a deeper connection than ever before as you wash, feed and make faces — even dance — with animals."   

“’Zoo Tycoon’ is a great game that provides players with the opportunity to learn more about the world’s animal species in a fun and engaging way,” said Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “As a result of the collaboration between Microsoft and the conservation team at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, players of any age will learn more about what it takes to run a successful zoo that meets high standards in animal care and welfare, as well as visitor services, while also helping to help support the conservation of these species in their natural ranges.”

In addition to working with AZA to ensure that “Zoo Tycoon”teaches players more about the responsibilities of running a zoo that satisfies visitors and meets the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the animals,Microsoft Studios will also issue a conservation-based Community Challenge each month to the game’s online community. Players are invited to vote for real-world field conservation projects, run by non-profit organizations endorsed by AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Programs, that they wish to support. If the gaming community meets the challenges, Microsoft will donate$10,000 to each project helping to protect endangered animals and their habitats.

“Many of the more than 500 AZA SSP programs represent endangered species with an urgent need for conservation in the wild” said Dr. Debborah Luke, AZA Vice President of Conservation and Science. “Microsoft’s Community Challenges provide gamers a ‘first of its kind’ opportunity to help these species while enjoying a game they love. Funds will be used for a variety of efforts, including species protection and recovery, wildlife rehabilitation and reintroduction, and working with communities to help them co-exist with the animals that share their land.”

The results of players’ first votes are in and the first Community Challenge will benefit the AZA Tiger SSP’s Tiger Conservation Campaign. Players have until March 31 to collectively release 1,000 Sumatran tigers into the wild in “Zoo Tycoon.” If they succeed, Microsoft will donate$10,000 in support of efforts to reduce the number of Sumatran tigers killed, displaced,or caught in snares. Players will also receive updates about how the funds were spent and how the game’s community has helped this critically endangered animal.

“In the past century, four of nine tiger subspecies have gone extinct in their natural habitats. The Sumatran tiger, like the Malayan and Amur tiger subspecies that are also managed through the AZA Tiger SSP program, is believed to number fewer than 500 in the wild as the result of poaching and habitat loss,” said Dr. Tara Harris, AZA Tiger SSP Coordinator and Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo. “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.”

“Zoo Tycoon” is now available at all global retailers. In the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, you can now purchase it at the new price of $39.99 for Xbox One and $29.99 for Xbox 360. Find more information here.

More information about the creation of “Zoo Tycoon,” as well as interviews with real-life zookeepers who care for endangered species, can be accessed here. 

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education,science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and six other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

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