The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute has teamed up with Neopets-owner JumpStart Games to launch the new mobile game Zoo Guardians.
Out now, the free-to-play game encourages kids nine-and-up to build their own zoos, care for animals and interact with wildlife through augmented reality tech. The game also features Smithsonian animal experts and conservation scientists to teach kids how to help animals thrive under human care.
The new title is part of the Smithsonian’s larger push to connect kids with wildlife and nature, something many companies have been doing as kids interest in the environment grows. A recent Viacom study found that 74% of kids six to 11 care “a lot” about the environment, and kidcos across the industry, from producers to toymakers have been adapting to the changing climate with new eco-focused shows and properties.
Zoo Guardians also taps into the continued popularity of augmented reality games, which companies such as LEGO, Minecraft and Dr. Seuss Enterprises have brought to life in the last year, giving kids a new way to interact with properties.
With its flagship brand Neopets, where players can take care of their own virtual pet, play games and engage with other players, JumpStart is no strangers to animal-themed game-play. Two decades later, the game continues to resonate with players, according to JumpStart. Most recently, JumpStart partnered with Blue Ant-owned prodco Beach House Pictures to adapt Neopets into a series for kids eight to 12.