Have you ever played Zoo Tycoon?
According to my mother, Zoo Tycoon was pretty much the only game I played as a kid until I found the Sims - and then they still got about even amounts of time expenditure, which is impressive considering what a time suck building houses in that game can be. (And honestly, once pets and pet breeding was an option in the later versions of the Sims, that was all the game was good for).
I’m actually amazed how much of the mechanics in ZT hold true in real life. (I’ve definitely caught myself mentioning things like “guests always want to think they could see at least one animal” and then realizing when asked where that rule comes from that I was quoting a guide that was on one of the big DLC sites.) ZT was pretty straightforward about making sure players understood what appropriate containment looked like - no basic chain link fencing for the allosaurus exhibit - and making you stay up on exhibit maintenance. Not to mention that for a game designed for children, it was very honest about incompatible species, predator/prey, and animal/guest interactions. My favorite part is that it emphasized that the preferences and needs of each animal would dictate the type of exhibit you designed for them, even down the grade of the elevation and the type of trees that were planted. You could see which things about an exhibit made the animal happy to live there and which ones didn’t and you had to balance them out or you guests would be really unhappy about the conditions your animal lived in. Looking back, it’s now obvious that the ‘x animal doesn’t like y in it’s exhibit’ information was a great introduction to basic welfare assessments.
Probably my favorite ZT story, though, was years after I stopped playing. Remember that sound clip they had for the dolphins in the marine expansion? Yeah, that… that’s the sound an angry Black-Footed Ferret makes. A while ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time at a facility that participates in their breeding program, and because they’re kept super isolated from people (so they don’t habituate and can be released as adults) the little buggers were very much not happy to see us. It made an impression, these cute little fuzzy animals things gaping and chittering aggressively at us like that. Fast forward a couple of months, I’m visiting family, and my niece is playing Zoo Tycoon on the desktop computer outside the guest room door. She was building… of course… a giant marine park. The noises from the dolphins got into my dreams, and I woke up in an absolute panic, freaking out about highly endangered and aggressive ferrets having gotten loose from their conservation programs.