Zoos became popular in the late nineteenth century as public attractions, even though they have been around in one form or another for centuries. Historically, a number of monarchs have kept private zoos, especially in Rome and the Far East. However, these zoos, as well as most nineteenth- century zoos, were not much more than rows of cages. Mortality rate of the animals, and handlers, was fairly high.
Modern zoos use open habitats to house most of the animals. These habitats are separated from the public by guardrails and sometimes deep trenches or moats. Vegetation and rocks give a natural look and feel, though the animals can usually retreat to a den, which is far more stark, inside the exhibit. If the zoo is large, the den might have a viewing area that allows the public to see the animals in their retreat as well. Less aggressive animals may have a simple fence or short wall dividing them and their camera-wielding predators. Goats, sheep, and easily domesticated animals are often housed in fenced “petting zoos,” where children might get to touch and feed them.
Exceptions to this kind of animal display exist for creatures that can more easily escape or need a special climate. Birds are normally kept in a sanctuary covered by a massive cage or net, which might have a lagoon for water birds. Reptiles are kept in a structure with glass-walled rooms, monkeys in large areas or cages with trees or tree-like structures, and bats in an enclosed building with an observation section at one end. Additionally, some zoos have penguins, otters, seals, and walruses, which require an aquatic habitat with islands and ponds. In rare cases, zoos may have dolphins, whales, and displays of exotic fish.
Wide, concrete or asphalt walkways twist and turn between and around hubs of habitats in the modern zoo. Exhibits are usually grouped together by species, such as big cats, bears, elephants, small mammals, aquatics, and similar categories, or by region, such as Africa and Asia. There is generally a snack bar or restaurant, gated ticket center, and administrative building with educational facilities, security, and first aid. Unseen by the public is typically a veterinary clinic where most any kind of medical procedure can be performed. These facilities are either in areas obscured by foliage or living plant walls, encircled by habitats, or occasionally underground, linked by tunnels.
Zoos are a locale that is packed with scores of innocent bystanders; to make situations even more interesting, there are hundreds, even thousands, of wild and exotic animals in the mix as well. With the proliferation of daft Australian wildlife show hosts, numerous exotic creatures have been snatched, tranquilized, boxed up, and placed in sleepy suburban zoos. The idea of an encounter with a rare Amazonian snake so poisonously lethal that organs shrivel at the mere mention of the name now become a lot more believable On a daily basis, the ingredients for sheer disaster such as a church group and a lion, two natural enemies, are kept apart and safe while maintaining an educational, family experience. Most common problems such as medical emergencies, extreme weather, power outages, and so are usually contained. It generally takes a very clever animal, a miscreant presence, or an inept zoo employee to release an animal into the general populace. Nonetheless, animal escapes into the keeper areas behind the exhibits do happen fairly frequently.
Adventures surrounding zoos in a non-supernatural setting often involve animal theft, by greedy individuals meeting a black market request or by animal activists seeking to “free” the creatures from their captivity. In mystical or science fiction settings, circumstances in the zoo can be far more unusual. For instance, masters of mind control may seek animal familiars to aid them in their goals. Similarly, what appears to be a mundane bear might actually be a shapeshifter. For an espionage twist, the creatures could have been taken from dozens of countries, which opens the possibility for the involvement of many cultures and governments. Discovering the existence of a stolen panda in the local zoo may enrage a Chinese ambassador, and it becomes the character’s responsibility to resolve the incident.
There are a number of environmental and political issues that can be blended into zoo encounters. Zoos in modern day are often educational platforms for wildlife protection, repopulation of endangered species, and conservation of habitats such as the rain forest. Thus, studious scientists, opportunistic corporate interests, and the lunatic fringe of activism all frequent this location and could possibly cause trouble because of their enthusiasm for their cause.
Things to See
+ Stone benches
+ Metal or plastic signs with information about the animals or directions to other areas of the zoo
+ Sturdy, green metal garbage barrels
+ Ring of keys for animal cages
+ Plastic buckets of food (grain, fruit, fish, etc.)
+ Wooden brooms and mops and plastic or metal pails
+ Golf carts (for the animal handlers)
+ Green trash barrels mostly filled with crushed cups and half-eaten food
+ For additional food ideas, see the “Amusement Park” entry
People to Meet
In modern zoos, zoologists make up most – if not all – of the staff. They have 2D in all characteristics except Knowledge at 3D and have brawling: grabs, dodge, and survival skills of +1D to + 2D as a result of working with the animals. Their medicine and scholar: biology/zoology is typically +3D. Zoo security has 2D for all attributes with brawling, dodge, marksmanship, medicine, and security skills of 3D. They often use transports like golf carts, light trucks, and Jeeps that carry first aid kits, tranquilizer guns, and restraints (such as nets, bags, cages, and rope).
Generic Adventure Characters contains a few zoo- appropriate animals. For other creatures, use these quick guidelines: Set a scale based on an animal of similar build with a Physique of ID to 2D for small animals, 2D to 3D for Human sized, and 4D to 5D for larger creatures. Assign a brawling skill of 3D to 4D for herbivores and 5D to 6D for carnivores, plus include a damage bonus of +1D to +2D for bite, claws, hooves, tusks, or similar natural weapons. Special natural abilities, such as poison, can be adapted from other creatures or Special Abilities.
Zookeeper: Reflexes 2D, brawling 3D, Coordination 2D, Physique 2D, lifting 3D, running 2D+1, swimming 2D+1, Knowledge 2D, business 2D+1, medicine 2D+1: animals +1D, scholar 2D+1: animals +2D, tech: computers 2D+1, Perception 2D, investigation 2D+I , search 2D+1, Presence 2D, animal handling 3D, willpower 2D+1. Move: 10. Strength Damage: 2D. Body Points: 9. Wound levels: 2.
Black Bear: Reflexes 2D+2, brawling 4D, climbing 4D+2, sneak 3D+2, Coordination 1D, Physique 4D, running 4D+2, Knowledge 1D, Perception 2D+2, search 4D+2, Presence 1D, intimidation 4D, willpower 3D. Move: 15. Strength Damage: 2D. Body Points: 13. Wound levels: 2. Natural Abilities: claws (damage +1D; +5 to climbing totals); bite (damage +1D); thick fur (Armor Value +1); large size (scale value 1).
Things to Do
+ The local to calls in the players’ character to investigate the theft of several animals. Fearing the detectives may be onto him, a security guard in on the heist baits the heroes into the surgical clinic. The door locking behind them, the characters face a tiger past due for his check-up and morning feeding …