Recently, I grabbed Planet Zoo while it was 55% off on Steam and have been obsessed with it ever since. I seriously can’t stop playing this game. It’s a problem. What’s a Simmer to do when they need to come up with new content but can’t stop playing a different game? Mash the two interests together, of course! Coming up with ways to incorporate all my other interests into The Sims is one of my favourite things to do so I decided to build my own zoo in The Sims 4!
The catch? I wanted it to be at least somewhat functional without any mods required. That wasn’t the easiest task but I did manage it in the end.
In addition to being functional, I wanted to make sure that the habitats were nice, inviting spaces for the animals that lived there. I took Planet Zoo’s animal welfare principles to heart while designing my zoo’s habitats. I tried my best to give all the animals as much space as possible given the 50×50 dimensions of the lot I chose and that each habitat was nicely suited to that animal’s natural habitat in the wild.
Before I started, I picked out seven incredible animals from PugOwned’s catalogue in the Gallery. She makes the most amazing, life-like exotic animals out of regular cats and dogs! I ended up with an otter, badger, deer, goat, tiger, cheetah, and a koala from her selection. These would be the animals I’d design my habitats around. I’m not an expert in these animals but I had a basic idea of the kind of environments they would enjoy and worked with what knowledge I had.
Of course, I also had to think about the guests who would be visiting. No one wants to spend all day at a zoo where there’s nowhere to sit, no washrooms, and nowhere to purchase food and drinks. I created a small courtyard space in the centre of the zoo with picnic tables, washrooms, and a food and drink stand to help keep our Sims’ needs met while they’re exploring the zoo. It also had a great view of some of the habitats!
In the end, I had 5 habitats to house all the animals I had, pairing up similar species in some of the habitats. I also added some Cottage Living animals to the habitats to help diversify the selection and bring the habitats to life! My otter shares its habitat with bunnies and my koala shares its habitat with birds, for example. I also housed a llama, a cow, and chickens with my deer and goat.
Now for the tricky part; making the zoo functional. The solution I came up with isn’t perfect but it does seem to work okay for the most part. To make the zoo functional, I had to put all the pets in a household with a Sim to act as the zookeeper. I set the zoo lot type to Residential and moved the zookeeper and the animals in. Then I went about corralling the animals into their proper pens. I made sure to click on the gate to each habitat and select Lock for All Pets so they’ll stay inside their enclosures. All the animals had everything they needed to be happy (beds, food dishes, scratching posts, litter boxes, toys) so they’d be content living in their new spaces. I also purchased a cow, llama, and some chickens for the zoo.
Once I was finished setting everything up, I left the household and switched to another family. I waited a few hours to see if the pets would escape their pens while they weren’t being played with, then I paid a visit to the zoo. I was happy to discover all the animals still inside their habitats! My Sims could stay almost as long as they wanted. My zookeeper would probably kick them out of the “house” at around 1-2am but most zoos would close long before then, anyway, if this was the real world.
All in all, I was pleased with the results and I think I’ll be sending more Sims to have a fun day at the zoo now that I know it’s doable.
Links and Credits
- If you’d like to download my zoo, search for Palm Conservation Centre (use the Canadian spelling for the word ‘centre’) in the Gallery. My ID is SnarkyWitch. Make sure you filter for CC or the lot will not show up. I did not use any CC at all but the Gallery decided to block my lot with a giant palm leaf covering everything in the preview image, so I had to manually change the preview pic which flags the lot as modded.
- All the wonderful animals pictured in this article were created by the talented PugOwned! Go check her out in the Gallery and download them for yourself! They are all CC-free and only require Cats & Dogs.
- I am using the Sunflower Syrup reshade for my pictures alongside Simp4Sims’ Graphics Overhaul.
- For players who would like to use mods to enhance their zoo experience, here are some good ones that I think you’ll find helpful:
- LittleMsSam’s More Buyable Venues and Live In Business mods. These might allow you to set the zoo as a different lot type to add more functionality to it.
- AOM’s Playable Pets mod. This will make it easier to send the animals to their correct habitats.
- Deaderpool’s MCCC mod. This will allow you to flag your zookeeper and pets to never age, so you don’t need to worry about them dying and having to replace them if you’re playing a generational save. It will also allow you to flag the household to never move from that lot, as well as flag the zookeeper to never marry or have kids.