Schenker wrote much of the music during the band's first tour of the United States in 1979. When Meine first heard Schenker's riff, it reminded him of the band's earlier visit to a street in New York City humorously referred to as a "zoo." Meine later composed the song's lyrics, which contain references to city streets; most notably, New York's 42nd Street.
The song has been featured on a few Scorpions "Best-Of" compilations, including Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years, Bad for Good: The Very Best of Scorpions, the box set Box of Scorpions and a re-recorded version for the Comeblack album.
The song was released as a single in 1980. However, it had limited chart success, peaking at #75 in the UK. Although the song commercially underperformed, it is a critically acclaimed heavy metal song. One critic notes "The Zoo" is both "ominously slow and melodically accessible," with a key element being the "Berlin burlesque vocal melody."