Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo has added a web-based backup for its records on animal care, Zoo Director Scott Gregory said.
The zoo has joined more than 300 zoos and aquariums around the world in contributing data to – and learning from – the largest online global knowledge base of zoological information ever assembled. Through the International Species Information System (ISIS), the zoo will contribute to information on more than 2.6 million wild animals living in human care.
The zoo has been a member of ISIS since 2009, but is among the first of more than 800 member institutions to use the new Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) application. This allows zoo staff to contribute basic biologic, collection management, husbandry, and health and disease information on the animals.
“Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo is proud to be a leader in this worldwide effort,” Gregory said. “Having this program will be constructive to any zoological organization. What we are seeing is a much more advanced and modern program which will be beneficial for the staff to keep records of each animal, and to know they will be secure.”
According to the ISIS website, “The vast ZIMS knowledge base is used ... to ensure the survival of numerous species that are threatened with extinction. Zoos and aquariums have already become leaders in the effort to breed endangered animals. ... Through zoos and aquariums the European bison (Bison bonasus), Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) and Przewalski’s wild horse (Equus przewalski) have been rescued from extinction, and there are programs in place to help many more vulnerable species.”
When Gregory became director of Great Bend’s zoo at the end of 2009, he said, there weren’t extensive records on all of the animals. The staff doesn’t know the age of every animal, or where some of them came from. Nowadays the zoo maintains records on that and more, logging what they eat and any health issues. Zoo veterinarians attempt to do a physical exam of each mammal in the collection at least once a year.
This information was already being recorded, but using ISIS and its ZIMS application helps with global data collection and provides an off-site backup. And although the public can’t view the online information, it is convenient for zoo staff, including the veterinarians, he said. They can also share information when transferring animals to or from other zoos