Community Spotlight: Zoo World Master Animal List

We found the Outback Koala image fitting for Ben

Zoo World is lucky to have a large and vibrant fan community. To celebrate this, we’re starting a new blog series: Community Spotlight. In it, we will feature one of Zoo World’s many excellent fan-made sites and groups. Some of you are doing incredible things, and we’d like to help get the word out!

To kick things off, meet Benjamin McGrath. Ben is the co-creator of the Zoo World Master Animal List, which he and a group of helpful members maintain as a sortable, searchable database of every Zoo World animal. He also made a post on the Zoo forums promoting a fantastic idea in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. A fantastic idea which, I’m happy to tease, we’ll have an announcement for very soon.

Ben kindly agreed to be interviewed about ZooMAL. Hit the jump to read more!

Zookeeper Matt: Hi Ben, thanks so much for doing this. To start off, are there any personal details you’d like to share? Where are you from, and what are you up to?

Ben: Hi Matt. Thanks for this opportinuty. Well as you know, my names Ben. I’m 21 and from Melbourne, Australia. Currently working part time as an Environmental Engineer.

ZM: Why did you decide to create ZooMAL?

Ben: ZooMAL actually started as just an ordinary list, just the names and ID of each animal, I’m an admin for the Zoo World Help Group on Facebook, and instead of repeating the same answers I figured it was easier just to write a list of every animal for anyone that wanted to know what they didn’t have. From there it grew to be more detailed, and over more time it’s grown even larger and more detailed.

ZM: What makes ZooMAL different from other Zoo World fansites?

Ben: I would have to say how informative the list is. Over time I’ve tried to add every kind of detail that I can for each animal, there are a few requested things missing but there is always room for improvement.

ZM: What drew you to Zoo World initially?

Ben: I was on vacation in the US visiting my Fiancee, and while she was at work I was on Facebook. It wasn’t long until I saw an advertisement asking if I wanted to start my own Zoo and get animals. Who doesn’t love animals?

ZM: What is your programming/website design background?

Ben: I’ve done VB coding in the past, but I haven’t done a lot with web design. Anything I did do was all using a program, this has all been using Notepad++.

ZM: What questions are you asked most often by the ZooMAL community?

Ben: There isn’t really one question I get asked but I do get a lot of people asking about what can and can’t be gifted or if new animals will be giftable.

ZM: You mentioned that you’re using Zoo World as a “guinea pig” to test your programming skills. Did you learn anything in particular from it?

Ben: Eight months ago, I knew very little about HTML and Javascript. I’ve done VB coding before, though. I’ve learnt a lot over the past months working on ZooMAL. Adding new features, finding new and simpler ways to do things. I would love to say I learned to always “back up my work,” but I still manage to forget sometimes. I think of one thing and get carried away, and before I know it I’ve added dozens of lines of code, and it stops working. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve killed ZooMAL.

ZM: ZooMAL is currently a nice pink hue in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What inspired you to do this?

Ben: A ‘nice’ pink? I guess it’s nice that it IS pink but I wouldn’t say any pink is nice 🙂 haha. I was talking to a friend a while ago and they asked why I don’t put a link to PayPal to get donations for my work. And I thought about it for a minute…I didn’t really like the idea, for a few reasons, mainly because I didn’t think it would be right. But then I thought…What if I could make a difference. Many people use my site and even if I got the attention of a small handful of people, that could still make a big impact.

ZM: Any upcoming plans for the site?

Ben: I’ve gotten a few requests to add some extra information, such as searching for Special Event items, adding the number you need to get the trophies, and making the “items” part more detailed. Just need to find time for them. As for larger things. I’m waiting for the end of October to unveil the Zoo World Master Halloween List 🙂

ZM: And now for the hardball questions. What’s your favorite feature in Zoo World?

Ben: My favourite part of Zoo World is creating maps.

ZM: What’s your least favorite? If you could change one thing in Zoo World, what would it be and how would you change it?

Ben: I’ll name two. Small one: I would change what we feed the animals…Ice-Cream, Cupcakes…I don’t even get that every day. Where are the fish, ants, nuts… more realistic things?

The second would be to get more, or bigger, islands.

ZM: Finally, what’s your favorite Zoo animal?

Ben: This is actually quite easy, because all my favourite animals are in Zoo World. But because there are a few. White Tiger, Meercat, Woodpecker, Outback Koala, as well as all my other Aussie buddies 🙂

ZM: That’s all. Thanks again! Any shout outs you would like to make?
Ben: Thank you Matt. I would like to shout out to the fans who use ZooMAL with a nice loud, “Thank You”. If it weren’t for them, ZooMAL wouldn’t be what it is today and we wouldn’t be doing this interview.

To view the Zoo World Master Animal List, visit http://lightningvp.justcommodores.com.au/animalid.html. Please remember that subjects of the Community Spotlight are maintained by players and fans; while Zoo World is thrilled to have such wonderful fan support, we cannot guarantee the veracity of their contents. If you have questions or feedback for ZooMAL, please visit their Facebook Fan Site.

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