The Saint Louis Zoo announced that all husbandry and pedigree records for thousands of animals in its care have now been converted to a global, web-based system, replacing software originally released in 1985. This database tells the story of the lives of thousands of animals from their birthplaces, parentage and transfers to details on their care and breeding history.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2012
Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703
SAINT LOUIS ZOO AMONG FIRST 100 INSTITUTIONS TO JOIN GLOBAL DATABASE WITH DETAILS ON LIVES OF ANIMALS TO SUPPORT ANIMAL CARE, MATCHMAKING, RESEARCH
Largest Global Knowledge Source on Animals Ever Assembled Was a Decade in Development
The Saint Louis Zoo today announced that all husbandry and pedigree records for thousands of animals in its care have now been converted to a global, web-based system, replacing software originally released in 1985. This database tells the story of the lives of thousands of animals from their birthplaces, parentage and transfers to details on their care and breeding history.
The latest version of this system—ZIMS 2012, which stands for Zoological Information Management System, is the largest web-based global knowledge source of zoological information ever assembled and was more than a decade in development. It is managed by the International Species Information System (ISIS). ISIS represents 850 member institutions in 80 countries. Funding for the project came from ISIS member institutions.
The new system offers greater standardization of data on more than 2.6 million animals in the care of more than 100 zoos and aquariums in 25 nations. It consolidates stand-alone programs previously developed for different record keeping needs, creating a single, global system using current records management technology that allows institutions to manage large volumes of data.
ZIMS helps institutions track the general health, genetic and demographic makeup of the animals in their care. It also helps zoos make breeding matches by identifying institutions with available animals and by offering information that promotes the highest level of genetic diversity in each population. For those animals beyond mating age, the system even helps find companions.
“Although animal record-keeping has been going on for decades in zoos and aquariums, data sharing for the management of related care, breeding and research was difficult before computerized record-keeping occurred in 1985---employees were forced to go through mountains of paperwork to look for the best genetic match,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President and CEO of the Zoo.
From 2004 to 2007, Dr. Bonner chaired ISIS during the initial stages of ZIMS' development. Prior to his ISIS chairmanship, he served as chair of the capital campaign to fund ZIMS.
“ZIMS has greatly enhanced the ability of zoological institutions to use the database as a tool for managing their animal collections and supporting important research,” he said, adding that this vast reservoir of knowledge will be used by the zoological community, research staffs and others focused on the survival of the many species that are threatened in the wild.
With ease of entry and robust search capabilities, this database also helps zoos and aquariums create reports for government agencies and accrediting bodies supporting legal compliance needs.
After 30 years observing the data quality issues that can arise when information is captured inconsistently, Saint Louis Zoo’s Animal Division Registrar Rae Lynn Haliday, CRM, finds ZIMS’ most valuable feature to be improved standardization. “One of the driving forces behind the creation of ZIMS was the development and incorporation of data entry standards,” says Haliday. “It is a key differential between ZIMS and the former software programs developed by ISIS.”
As the Project Manager for the Saint Louis Zoo’s ZIMS deployment initiative, she has worked over the last decade with colleagues from other ISIS member institutions and the Zoo’s staff to address data quality for the Zoo’s 24,170 individual electronic animal records and to facilitate the successful conversion of this information into ZIMS.
“As someone who worked with the original carbonized paper card system developed by ISIS in the 1970s and with all versions of its computerized record keeping software released over the last 20 years, I see this as a major milestone,” she said. “Data quality and the means to provide for the long-term preservation and access of mission-critical animal data are key to the ability of zoos and aquariums to advance their core mission of conserving wildlife and their habitats.”
The deployment of ZIMS 2012 at the Saint Louis Zoo involves extensive training with the potential of over 140 users across the institution. The Zoo’s Registrar Department deployed ZIMS 2012 in June. By the second quarter of 2013, the phased implementation process will be complete and all animal units at the Saint Louis Zoo will be using ZIMS. ISIS has set 2013 as the tentative date for the release of the next phase of this software, which will include medical records.
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About Saint Louis Zoo
The Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. The Zoo attracts 3,000,000 visitors each year.