The furry, feathered, and scaly world of zoos, animal care, and conservation comes to life in “Zoo Guardians,” a new mobile game launched today by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in partnership with JumpStart Games. “Zoo Guardians” invites children and animal lovers starting at age 9 to build their own zoos, care for animals, complete quests and interact with realistic 3D representations of wildlife via augmented reality.

As players expand their zoos, they learn from Smithsonian animal experts and conservation scientists how to help animals thrive under human care and in their native habitats. “Zoo Guardians” is free and available to download in the App Store (for Apple devices) and on Google Play (for Android devices).

In “Zoo Guardians,” players join forces with other zoos worldwide to protect animals as part of the Young Guardians Initiative, a global organization dedicated to defeating the villains of climate change, deforestation, and habitat loss that threaten animals’ survival. As of today, players can adopt up to 58 species—from giant pandas and Asian elephants to lemur frogs and snowy owls—and advance their zoo career by learning about the habitats, food, social groupings, and enrichment items animals need to thrive from Smithsonian zookeeper and scientist mentors. In augmented reality (AR) mode, players interact with animals and learn which foods they enjoy, snap research photos, and earn fun fact cards and videos. 

 “Connecting young audiences with wildlife and nature is paramount to our mission to save species,” said Steven Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “With ‘Zoo Guardians,’ we’re thrilled to offer the next generation of conservationists a chance to go behind the scenes and explore how zoos operate, care for animals, and work together to save wildlife from extinction. By introducing players to a host of cool creatures in this virtual world, we have a real chance to motivate this generation to save animals in the real world.”

Players explore their zoological world through quests that mimic challenges faced by real-world zoos and earn “Zoo IQ” to level up. As part of “World Watch,” players can work individually or together tor relocate the animals in their zoos to the wild or to a zoo in the animal’s native country.

“‘Zoo Guardians’ is the perfect game for kids and animal lovers,” said Jim Czulewicz, president and CEO of JumpStart Games. “It gives users the ability to learn about 58 different species in a fun and engaging way. By escalating their Zoo IQ, they’re being challenged, all while becoming a conservation hero.”

To learn more about the “Zoo Guardians” mobile game, visit and connect with other players on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter or follow the hashtag #ZooGuardians. While the game is free to download and play, in-app purchases are available.

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