Showdown in Texas as National Finalists Compete For “Zoo Tycoon” Ultimate Zookeeper Title

FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 21, 2002 — It was win, lose or paw today at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas as five national finalists competed for the “Zoo Tycoon (TM) ” Ultimate Zookeeper title, recognizing their animal-care expertise in a series of zoo-themed competitions, including animal “poo” identification. “Zoo Tycoon,” a popular PC game from Microsoft Corp., began the search for America’s pre-eminent keeper in September, and finalists were then selected by popular vote at . Zoo New England zookeeper Jonathan Gilmour took home top honors in the final challenge, besting four remarkable animal-care specialists to earn Zoo New England a $20,000 donation from Microsoft for use in animal care and habitat enrichment.

Gilmour’s likeness is now available as a downloadable character for the “Zoo Tycoon” PC game at . The family-friendly “Zoo Tycoon” game puts players in charge of creating and managing the ultimate zoo, and now players can download Gilmour’s character to get a super-keeper with enhanced animal-care training and expertise, including the ability to increase animal happiness when he enters the exhibits.

“Zookeepers, both in reality and in the ‘Zoo Tycoon’ PC game, are the most important contributors to a successful zoo,” said Chuck Frizelle, Microsoft product manager. “Being a keeper is a wild way to make a living, and the ‘Zoo Tycoon’ Ultimate Zookeeper campaign is a way to recognize all zookeepers for their tremendous dedication to the profession.”

At the final event, competitors gave a short presentation on their approach to animal care and conservation, tested their knowledge in a “zoo-logic” trivia quiz, built their ultimate zoo with the “Zoo Tycoon” PC game, and completed a zany zoo obstacle course that included manure identification. American Association of Zoo Keepers Inc. President Kevin Shelton and Vice President Jacque Blessington, along with a Microsoft representative, oversaw the challenge and determined the winner. Preliminary competition began Wednesday, Nov. 20, and concluded Thursday in front of a live audience when a soaring hawk swooped in and delivered an oversized $20,000 donation check for Zoo New England to Gilmour.

“It feels great to hold the title of “Zoo Tycoon” Ultimate Zookeeper, and the $20,000 donation will go a long way to support Zoo New England. I know the animals will appreciate it,” said Gilmour, who cares for the hoof stock at Zoo New England. “It’s nice for zookeepers to receive this type of recognition, and as for me, being a PC game download is a unique way to be honored.”

All competitors were nominated by zoo colleagues and selected as semifinalists through an application process. On Sept. 19, animal fans everywhere began stampeding to to cast a vote for their favorite keeper among the 12 semifinalists. Online votes determined the following five finalists in the “Zoo Tycoon” Ultimate Zookeeper challenge: Jason Barr of the Fort Worth Zoo, Valerie Beardsley of the Dallas Zoo, Phil Colclough of the Knoxville Zoological Gardens, Jonathan Gilmour of Zoo New England and Matt Thompson of the Memphis Zoo. Additional information can be found at .

About “Zoo Tycoon”

Simple to play yet challenging to master, Microsoft’s “Zoo Tycoon” offers engaging gameplay for animal lovers and simulation game fans of all ages. A top-selling* PC game title by units for the past four quarters since its release in October 2001, “Zoo Tycoon” provides players captivating imagery, clever gameplay and interactive tutorials that make it easy to play right out of the box. Developed by Blue Fang Games LLC, “Zoo Tycoon” has something for everyone, stimulating creativity and imagination as players respond to the needs of the animals and guests.

Now players can add prehistoric beasts and aquatic creatures with “Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur Digs” and the newly released “Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania (TM) ,” two expansion packs for the original game. Imaginations run wild as players combine land, aquatic and prehistoric animals in a quest to build and manage the ultimate zoo. Additional information is available at .

About Blue Fang Games

Blue Fang Games LLC is a computer game development company located outside Boston. The company was founded by Adam Levesque and John Wheeler, two former Papyrus Racing veterans who led the development of the best-selling and critically acclaimed NASCAR Racing series. Formed in July 1998, Blue Fang developed the best-selling PC game “Zoo Tycoon,” as well as the “Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur Digs” and “Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania” expansion packs. Blue Fang Games is located on the Internet at .

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the PC, Xbox (TM) video game system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse game portfolios for the PC ( ), including such franchises as “Age of Empires®
,” “Flight Simulator” and “Zoo Tycoon”; Xbox ( ), including such franchises as “Halo (TM) ,” “Project Gotham Racing (TM) ” and “NFL Fever”; and ( ), the official games channel for the MSN®
network and home to such hits as “Bejeweled” and “OutSmart (TM) .”

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

* NPDTechworldSM, October 2001–September 2002. Based on total U.S. retail sales.

Microsoft, Zoo Tycoon, Marine Mania, Xbox, Age of Empires, Halo, Project Gotham Racing, MSN and OutSmart are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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