Microsoft Game Studios Announces semi-finalists in the America’s Favorite Zoo Contest

Drumming up excitement for the release of the best-selling Windows game “Zoo Tycoon 2,” Microsoft Game Studios today announced 15 semi-finalists in the search for America’s Favorite Zoo. Finalists were selected based on their scores in seven different categories: habitats/exhibits; educational programs; awards and recognition; staff highlights, recognition or commendations; community events; involvement or service; other visitor programs, activities or attractions; and organizational partnerships and affiliations. The winning zoo will not only boast the title of America’s Favorite Zoo, but will also earn a $25,000 grant.

America’s Favorite Zoo 15 Semi-Finalists:
Austin Zoo (Austin, TX)
Binder Park Zoo (Battle Creek, MI)
Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield, IL)
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (Cleveland, OH)
Dallas Zoo (Dallas, TX)
Fort Worth Zoo (Forth Worth, TX)
Los Angeles Zoo (Los Angeles, CA)
North Carolina Zoo (Asheboro, NC)
Oakland Zoo (Oakland, CA)
Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Gardens (Oklahoma City, OK)
Oregon Zoo (Portland, OR)
Palm Beach Zoo (Palm Beach, FL)
San Francisco Zoo (San Francisco, CA)
Toledo Zoo (Toledo, OH)
Tulsa Zoo (Tulsa, OK)

The fate of the 15 semi-finalists now rests in the hands of their biggest fans: their visitors. From October 4 to October 29, zoo fans will have the chance to vote for their favorite zoo at the official “Zoo Tycoon 2” Web site. Five finalists will be announced on November 1 here, and online voting for the general public will resume to determine America’s Favorite Zoo. The winner will be announced November 16, 2004.

“This contest has been a lot of fun,” said Shane Kim, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios who is also one of the chosen judges. “The decision is going to be really tough. Every single zoo has so much to offer. The public sure has their voting cut out for them.”

For the America’s Favorite Zoo Contest, 50 zoos were invited by a panel of 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 submitted materials to Microsoft from Aug. 2 to Aug. 27 were considered by a panel of judges: Jonathan Gilmour, winner of the 2002 “Zoo Tycoon” Ultimate Zookeeper Challenge, Bill Street of the National Wildlife Federation, Shane Kim, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios and Adam Levesque, CEO of Blue Fang Games LLC, which develops “Zoo Tycoon 2.”