Zoo Empire is a 3D physics based, free open source simulation, much similar to Zoo Tycoon and Animal Park before it. The aim of Zoo Empire is to fill the zoo with as many animals as possible and to keep them happy and healthy throughout. Much like the later games in this series, Zoo Empire uses the in-built physics engine from the original Zoo Tycoon to give animals a variety of movements and behaviors. As you go through the game, you'll acquire new objects which can further enhance game play, allowing you to build up your zoo in much the same way as earlier games.
Unlike the previous games in the franchise, where animals were placed in a small box, in Zoo Empire they are free-roaming and can interact with each other and with you. Moving animals around the zoo and taking them for walks or feeding them is just one of the many actions you can take, as well as interacting with the environment to make them perform certain tasks. When animals are not staying still and laying around, zoos must be tended to use tools such as the tractor and the egg crate. You can buy these tools from the in-game store and once you have acquired a number of them, you can hire others to help you with the day-to-day tasks your zoo empire requires.
Zoo Empire is available in two versions, a 'lite' version intended for those who don't want so much complexity, and a full version intended for those who enjoy playing complex video games with a lot of strategy. For example, the 'lite' version contains all the levels you would expect to find in a full version, but also includes five bonus missions and ten different animals. The 'platinum Edition' on the other hand, adds eighteen different animals to the collection, increases the number of available jobs to four and adds a fourth track, providing for even more variety and challenges when managing your zoo empire.