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Animal Care Monitoring Tool Coming to ZIMS Thanks to Member Support

Optimizing animal care, welfare and conservation

Zoos and aquariums are leading the way in the conservation of endangered species and educating an estimated 700 million visitors annually about the magnificent and fragile interrelationships between humans, non-humans and environment.

The need for consistent indicators

As our members continue to lead the way in this important work, new monitoring tools are needed to provide access to meaningful, and actionable, insights on animal welfare. Understanding animal care and welfare norms makes identifying potential problems easier. An important first step is to define key indicators of excellent animal care and then track them over time. Monitoring key indicators over time will help surface issues faster, so they can be investigated and addressed in the most efficient manner possible.

Animal care enhancements

animal care - Dr. Nancy Hawkes

Dr. Nancy Hawkes, Director of Animal Care at Woodland Park Zoo (Image credit: Girl Scouts of Western Washington)

In 2016, Dr. Nancy Hawkes, Director of Animal Care at Woodland Park Zoo started initial discussions with Species360 to develop a new Animal Care Monitoring Tool within ZIMS. This community project will streamline access to critical key welfare indicators by enabling ZIMS to systematically track and monitor inputs and outputs of animal care. The project, funded by 23 members, will expand insights available to our community in support of animal care, behavioral, and environmental data for the species in our member institutions.

Primarily designed for keepers and animal care staff, it will provide a dashboard of animal care indicators such as body condition score, activity level, behavior, space use, diet consumption, etc. Seamless integration within ZIMS will enable the data to be portable across applications in real-time, making it easier to compile and view animal care information. Search, reporting and graphing capabilities will also make the recorded data easy to access and evaluate for changes over time.

“Our 1,109 members in 95 countries represent many of the world’s most progressive wildlife facilities. They are leading the way in identifying and strengthening animal care standards. This important initiative will give them the tools they need to monitor current trends in animal care and help them deliver to the highest welfare standards possible.”

–J. Peter Donlon, Director Global Member Development, Species360

Community funding is a way to help make new member-generated ideas that fall outside of our current development plans a reality.  We are excited to announce that this campaign is 100% funded thanks to the generosity from the following members.  Upon completion of this important initiative, the functionality will then be made freely available to all members across our creative community:


What’s the scope of the project? The project goal will be to create a ZIMS-based husbandry tracking tool with commonly utilized parameters applicable at a broad range of taxonomic classifications. The tool will allow users to identify and define important indicators, and to create reports and graphs over a time period they choose for an animal.

How will it work for users? The anticipated primary users of this monitoring system will be animal care staff:  keepers, animal care managers, curators, and veterinarians.  The goal is to create a meaningful tool for these professionals for tracking the inputs they provide in the form of direct animal care and the outputs they observe, in the form of behavior, activity and physical parameters.  The tool would consist of an extensive dropdown menu of inputs and outputs that institutions could choose from, depending on what variables they wish to track.

A user dashboard will display all indicators assigned to the animal in focus on a graph and data grid. Values that are out of the expected range will be flagged so the user can easily see scores that may be of concern.  By viewing the dashboard or running a report, the user will see the trends for all indicators (or select to view specific indicators) assigned to that animal over a specified date range and have the capability to change the date range. The report can be run for multiple animals so data can be compared between individuals.

What makes this project unique? Successful completion of this project will, for the first time, offer the zoological community a comprehensive husbandry tracking capability within the ZIMS animal management platform – supporting animal care, behavioral  and environmental data for over 21,000 species –.  The intent is that this solution will be user friendly and easy to implement by keepers and other zoo staff.

What’s a community project? Community funding is a way to help make new ideas that fall outside of our current plans a reality, and share them with the rest of our community.  The global membership of 1,100+ institutions and 22,000 individual ZIMS users from 95 countries have consistently supported and benefited from these projects.  For example, another recent community funded effort resulted in the development with initial funding provided by 22 members – of the now globally available Keeper Daily Report.

Learn more about community projects.


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