Key & Compass presents:
Gnu in the Zoo
by Alex Ball

Gnu in the Zoo is a Z-machine interactive fiction game written with Inform 7 and is © 2016 by Alex Ball.

In this game, you play as a gnu in a zoo. You wake up in the middle of the night and discover that the gate to the gnu enclosure was left unlocked. The thought of exploring the zoo is thrilling. Is tonight the night you escape from the zoo?

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 3 of the game. But you should really visit the author's homepage for this game and read his walkthrough written in Twine which explains how every animal respresents a different license and which ones are GNU-compatible!

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of an interactive fiction game. Please make an honest effort to play the game before reading this walkthrough.


Affero'sStall YourStall LionEnclosureItself LionEnclosureEntrance GnuEnclosureEntrance ElephantEnclosureEntrance ElephantEnclosureItself Keeper'sHut DevilEnclosureItself DevilEnclosureEntrance Riverside ReptileHouse(North) StorageArea Lakeside ReptileHouse(South) Aviary(North) MainConcourse Aviary(Middle) Aviary(South) FrontEntrance (win!) in out in out in in out out


Your Stall

CAUTION: Time is ticking in this game.

> x me. x straw. x gate.

> w.

Affero's Stall

> x Affero. x webs.

> Affero, follow me. (+1)

> e. s. s.


> enter hut.

Keeper's Hut

> x keys. take keys.

> x black key. (has a horned shape)

> x white key. (looks like ivory)

> x red key. (has a horned shape)

> x green key. (has scale pattern drawn on it)

> x yellow key. (has yellow furry material stuck on it)

> x brown key. (multiple earth tones, feathery texture)

> out. n. w.

Lion Enclosure Entrance

> x lion. x Tex. x fence. x gate. x platform.

> x enclosure itself. x pool float.

Unlock the gate for the point, but do not ever open this gate! Tex will eat you!

> unlock gate with yellow key. (+1)

> e. e.

Elephant Enclosure Entrance

> x Vincent. x fence. x skips. x shelter. x straw.

Unlock the gate for the point, but you need not enter. CAUTION: If you do enter and if you persist in trying to wake Vincent, he will roll over in his sleep and crush you.

> unlock gate with white key. (+1)

> w. s. w.

Devil Enclosure Entrance

> x Beastie. (has white lumps in his side)

> x lumps. (claws from a tiger, maybe?)

> unlock gate with red key. (+1)

> in.

Devil Enclosure Itself

> take claws. (This works.)

> lick Beastie. (He becomes a gnu!)

> Beastie, follow me. (+1)

> take keys.

> out. e. e.

Reptile House (North)

> x gecko. (Mo the Gecko)

> x tank. (locked)

You don't need Mo, but you do get a point for unlocking Mo's tank.

> unlock tank with green key. (+1)

> s.

Reptile House (South)

> x Odi. x branch. x tank. (locked)

> unlock tank with green key. (+1)

> open tank.

> touch Odi. (She becomes a gnu!)

> Odi, follow me. (+1)

> w.


> x Tabby. x bench.

> x pond. x weir. x sign. x building.

> wake Tabby. (The cat becomes a gnu!)

> Tabby, follow me. (+1)

> w.

Storage Area

> x Glenda. x silos. x smaller containers.

You can't really do anything with Glenda.

> e. s.

Main Concourse

> x tower. x archway.

> w. (aviary door locked)

> unlock door with brown key. (+1)

> w.

Aviary (North)

> x pole. (On it is Miron the Condor.)

> x Miron. x rail.

> s.

Aviary (Middle)

> x lower perch. (has Behlendorf the Patchy Eagle)

> x upper perch. (has Striker the Patchy Eagle)

> x Behlendorf. x Striker. (Behlendorf is the older of the two.)

> s.

Aviary (South)

> x rail. x Sparky. x burner.

> x sack. (has five lumps of coal)

> drop keys. take lump. n.

Aviary (Middle)

> throw lump at upper. (Striker flies to the rail.)

> touch Striker. (He becomes a gnu.)

> Striker, follow me. (+1)

> s. e. e.

Front Entrance

Note that you only get the point for escaping if you manage it within the first four hours of game time.

> x gates. x booth. x window.

> e. (+1)

Your herd of six gnus smash down the gates!

*** You have achieved freedom! ***

> amusing



This is the response to AMUSING after you've won the game:

I hope you enjoyed that.

You worked out, I expect, that this game is a thinly-veiled tutorial on software licence compatibility. It should be fairly obvious that the character you play represents the GNU General Public Licence; that it's version 3, maybe less so. But did you work out which licences the other twelve residents of the zoo represent? (For hints, see

You might also want to look out for the four possible ways to lose the game. But probably not.




This is the response to ABOUT:

The inspiration for this game came from two sources, really.

First was the set of four mini-games written for the TuxRadar podcast: see You will probably be able to detect elements of at least three of those games in this one.

The other was some work I did in the latter half of 2010 on data licensing. This game is nothing to do with data licensing, but the connection will hopefully become clear.

Special thanks go to Barbara Ball and Chris Ball for testing the game for me.



Held items

Note: You can only hold one thing in your mouth at a time.

Your gnu herd

Tell all the other gnus to follow you. You need every gnu you can get to bust down the front gates.


The response to SCORE is:

You have so far scored your-score out of a possible 12, in several turns.

Points are awarded as follows:

Points are deducted as follows:

Thank You to my Patreon supporters

This walkthrough was funded via Patreon with

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