Animal Management Software
Whilst the initial stage of establishing a studbook is still a laborious process, the development of computer software programmes, such as SPARKS (Single Population Analysis and Records Keeping System) and PMx (Population Management), and now a web-based global data management system; ZIMS (Zoological Information Management System) have enabled detailed analysis and can determine the manner in which the population can be effectively managed. The systems currently used by EAZA members were developed by the International Species Information System (ISIS).
The most commonly used systems are ZIMS, ARKS (Animal Record Keeping System) and SPARKS. Each animal within the collection holds a record. Species, sex, parents, birth date, birth location, current location, house name, transponder chip number are all recorded and any other information that may be recorded about that particular animal. Institutional records are submitted to the global database at ISIS which results effectively in a list of animals present in ISIS collections (see ISIS abstracts). This global database also enables us to track an individual animal fully as it moves through ISIS collections, further supporting management of captive breeding.
Some institutions also use Medical ZIMS or MedARKS to manage their veterinary records. This allows storage of information on veterinary treatments, parasitological testing, anaesthesias, blood tests and clinical notes to support veterinarians when treating zoo animals. The blood test results from all system users are pooled to provide normal values which allow for more accurate diagnosis and treatment of exotic animals. Reports can show trends in disease and mortality, enabling veterinarians and animal staff to improve conditions and increase the health of their animals.
At present ISIS has more than 1000 registered member zoos, aquariums and related organizations in more than 80 countries in six continents. Over two and and a half million individual animals representing approximately 10,000 species are recorded.
Complete, accurate and up-to-date animal records are vitally important to those coordinating studbooks and managing ex situ populations. To support BIAZA members in this conservation breeding role, the BIAZA Records Group act as an advisory group to help ensure BIAZA members have full access to information on keeping effective animal records.