Zootopia is a film set in a place where anthropomorphic mammals rule the land. Judy Hopps is a rabbit from ruralsville Bunnyburrow, and she sets out to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a police officer in the megalopolis known as Zootopia.
Even though Judy’s her academy’s valedictorian, Police Chief Bogo doesn’t think much of the fluffy bunny, and he assigns her to parking duty. That belief is backed up when she’s out on her first day, and a couple of con-artist foxes, Nick Wilde, and Finnick, swindle the new cop.
Then after Judy leaves her parking duty to arrest Duke Weaselton for stealing a bag of crocus bulbs called Midnicampum holicithias, Chief Bogo reprimands her. Mrs. Otterton next walks into Chief Bogo’s office; pleading for someone to find her missing husband, Emmitt. He’s one of fourteen predators who have suddenly gone missing.
Judy excitedly volunteers to take the case, and when Assistant Mayor Dawn Bellwether finds out about it, she forces Chief Bogo to let the bunny investigate. In true crime drama style, he gives Judy 48 hours to find Emmitt, or she’s off the police force.
Judy figures that Nick was the last to see Emmitt, so she secretly records his confession of tax evasion, and then blackmails him into helping her solve the case. The two track Otterton to the crime boss Mr. Big’s limousine. He says Otterton reverted to his animalistic, feral state, and savagely attacked his chauffeur Manchas.
They find Manchas at his home where he claims Otterton yelled at him about night howlers before the attack. As Manchas tells them the story, he too turns savage, and chases after our heroes. Judy is able to trap him, and she then calls the ZPD for help, but Manchas escapes before they can arrive. Police Chief Bogo prematurely demands Judy’s resignation, but Nick jumps in to defend her as the two begin to bond over the incident.
Next up, Judy and Nick head over to City Hall where they access to the city’s traffic cameras. They find that wolves captured Manchas, and Judy figures that they are the night howlers Otterton was screaming about.
Eventually, they locate the missing predators at the Cliffside Asylum, and they all have turned savage. Zootopia’s Mayor, Leodore Lionheart, has been illegally holding them in secret while they try to figure out the cause of their feral behavior. Judy has Lionheart and the asylum staff arrested for false imprisonment, and Assistant Mayor Bellwether becomes the megapolis’ new mayor.
After everyone heaps tons of praise on Judy for solving the case, she asks Nick to become her ZPD partner. However, when Judy says that she believes that predator biology is the root cause for the animals turning savage at a press conference, Nick refuses Judy’s offer out of spite (and the fact that he too is considered a predator species).
Judy’s comment about predator biology just contributes to the hateful speech and discrimination against predators now running rampant throughout Zootopia. Feeling guilty over this, Judy resigns from the ZPD, and returns to Bunnyburrow as a failed rabbit.
Once back at Bunnyburrow, Judy learns that the night howlers mentioned are actually the crocus bulbs Weaselton stole at the beginning of the movie. They contain a neurotoxin that creates severe psychotropic effects in mammals; causing them to turn savage.
With this news, Judy heads back to Zootopia, and reconciles with Nick. The two confront Weaselton, and he eventually reveals that the bulbs he stole were meant for a ram named Doug. They run off to find Doug who is at a hidden laboratory deep in the city’s subway system. He’s busy developing a drug made from night howlers, which he has been testing on predators by shooting them with a dart gun.
Judy and Nick snatch the mystery drug for evidence, but before they can return to the ZPD, Mayor Bellwether finds them at the Natural History Museum. She reveals herself to be the mastermind of a prey-supremacist conspiracy seeking to frame predators as dangerous and savage.
After a scuffle, Bellwether steals their evidence back as Nick tends to an injured Judy. When Bellwether then shoots Nick with a drug pellet in an attempt to make him attack Judy, we learn Nick replaced the pellets with harmless blueberries. Judy then tricks Bellwether into monologging her part in the attacks, while she records the Mayor’s confession.
The film concludes as the ZPD arrests Bellwether for the scheme. Lionheart publicly denies any such knowledge of Bellwether’s plot; still defending his imprisonment of the savage predators. Doctors cure the savage animals, and Judy rejoins the ZPD. Nick soon graduates from Zootopia’s Police Academy as the city’s first fox police officer where the ZPD assigns him to be Judy’s partner.