O Zoo le Mio was the first game that my wife P and I introduced to our friends S and A. After explaining the rules (which are very straightforward) with a few examples, we began the bidding. A decided to concentrate on the trees and water-related enclosures, quickly building strength in those areas. P decided to build "long-and-tall", providing lots of future placement options. This seemed to work well for her later in the game, as she was able to easily grow selected enclosures as tiles appeared. S looked strong in red almost right from the start. I initially had a good run of yellow but had trouble orienting my red enclosures and ended up having to waste a tile after inadvertently winning it (and losing the tie-break flag) for one zoo coin. It turned out my placement of this tile was going to cost me a lot later on.
Midway through, and a few overkill bids later, things were looking pretty even. Cash in the four-player game is hard to come by even in the late game so the bids were often low. A winning bid on a reasonable tile, with a margin of three (everyone else passed!) by myself was disturbing. To make matters worse, when combined with my previous accidental tile I realised too late that I had completely blocked off my red estate. I was not to recover from that.
Towards the final stages, P was looking very strong in yellow, while A had a good blue enclosure and S had a good mix. Everyone had at least two park benches and the scores were pretty even. The final round involved each player making a seemingly all-out bid for the tile they most wanted, however I thought I'd be sneaky and save a single zoo coin for the last auction. Unfortunately, S had already thought of this (impressive insight for his first game) and had saved two coins, so he got the last tile.
Final scores were approximately:
S - 120ish
P - 90ish
A - 80ish
Me - 70ish
S took the win, which he clearly deserved. His approach had been consistent and well considered. As his first Eurogame, he appeared to enjoy it immensely, as did A.