In preparation for the release of the highly anticipated Windows-based game “Zoo Tycoon™ 2,” Microsoft Game Studios today announced that the search for America’s Favorite Zoo has officially begun. Fifty zoos have been invited by a panel of expert judges to participate in the nationwide contest, which will award the winning zoo a $25,000 (U.S.) grant to fund its habitat and animal care.
Selected zoos that submit materials to Microsoft from Aug. 2 to Aug. 27 will be considered by the panel of judges, which is composed of the former Ultimate Zookeeper Challenge winner, a member of the National Wildlife Federation, a Microsoft Game Studios employee and a Blue Fang Games LLC employee. Submission materials can include press kits, case studies, articles, overviews, presentations, videos and photos. Fifteen zoos chosen by the panel and announced Sept. 20 will continue on to the semifinal round.
“Zoos are the gateway of information and exploration to some of the most precious and scarce animals on the planet,” said Ben Arndt, marketing manager for Microsoft Game Studios. “In participating in the ‘Zoo Tycoon’ search for America’s Favorite Zoo, animal lovers across the country can recognize and help contribute to their favorite zoo, thus furthering our efforts to improve animal care and revitalize zoo habitats.”
From Sept. 20 to Oct. 15, the choice of America’s Favorite Zoo will rest in the hands of animal lovers across the country, as zoo fans of all ages will be invited to visit http://www.zootycoon.com/ to vote for their favorite zoo. The top five finalists will be chosen by the exclusively online voting, and their names will be announced and posted on the official “Zoo Tycoon” Web site Oct. 18.
“As the winner of the ‘Zoo Tycoon’ Ultimate Zookeeper Challenge in November 2002, I was honored to be recognized and thanked among zookeepers for our tireless effort and dedication in maintaining these animal habitats,” said Jonathan Gilmour, Ultimate Zookeeper Challenge winner from Zoo New England. “As a judge in this year’s competition, I’m looking forward to helping award a zoo the title of America’s Favorite Zoo. After all, there wouldn’t be any great zookeepers without great zoos to create and nurture them.”
In the final round, America’s Favorite Zoo will be chosen by zoo aficionados voting online from Oct. 18 to Nov. 2. The winner, to be determined exclusively by the number of online votes received, will be announced Nov. 2. A $25,000 grant will then be awarded to America’s Favorite Zoo to assist in the upkeep and maintenance of the zoo and its inhabitants. As part of the voting process, visitors also will be able to enter a sweepstakes to win a variety of prizes. Details will be available throughout the contest on the official “Zoo Tycoon” Web site.