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Saint Louis Zoo: Advanced Access Management (AAM) continues to deliver on its original investment

The following article is written in collaboration with Rae Lynn Haliday, Registrar at Species360 member Saint Louis Zoo. It illustrates key attributes of the ZIMS Advanced Access Management (AAM) feature, and its value in information governance during the pandemic.

Saint Louis Zoo (River’s Edge) keeper, Becky Heisler, feeds enrichment produce to its black rhinos. ZIMS allows animal care teams to enter, track and evaluate enrichment so that they can continue to provide our animals with the highest level of welfare.

Over its 110-year history, the Saint Louis Zoo has maintained a large and diverse animal collection. It currently holds 4,365 individual animals and an additional 9,362 specimens in groups with a total collection size of 13,722 representing 475 species. Like more than 1,200 Species360 member zoos, aquariums, and wildlife refuges around the world, Saint Louis Zoo uses the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) to record vital information about the care, welfare, and treatment for its large, diverse animal collection.

What is unique to Saint Louis Zoo is the institution’s long history of empowering staff to do direct data entry. In doing so, rather than handing off records to a separate individual, they work with the Registrar Department as a team.  The zoo’s animal data reflects first-hand insight from staff working with the collection within a framework of record keeping standards set by its ZIMS Deployment Team and senior leadership. Out of the 175 ZIMS users at Saint Louis Zoo, 69 percent are keepers recording husbandry information directly in ZIMS.

Species360 sees a growing trend with the number of member-institutions using multiple roles to complete direct entry in ZIMS; zoos and aquariums around the world are beginning to support this record keeping strategy. New ZIMS features like easy-to-use Husbandry Log Templates and Provisional Data provide even greater support for direct data entry by animal care teams and others.


For Saint Louis Zoo and other institutions, having animal keepers be frontline record keepers for husbandry information requires the addition of a new level of oversight. Saint Louis Zoo provided significant start-up funding to partner with Species360 to create a ZIMS feature called Advanced Access management (AAM) to facilitate that goal. AAM has allowed the institution to move its animal record keeping culture forward in ZIMS with 120 keepers doing direct entry in in the husbandry module on a daily basis.

Lillian Moore, CRA, Assistant Registrar for the Saint Louis Zoo tells us, “Keepers are the primary source for all animal records, and therefore it is best practice to have them as the authors for those records. By using AAM, we are able to empower our staff with tools needed to create full and accurate animal husbandry records without compromising security.”

The Saint Louis Zoo embraces records and information management and governance that supports its mission as well its key values, one of which is operational excellence. The AAM feature gives ZIMS administrators and users the ability to manage animal information in an efficient manner. This includes enabling multiple roles to directly enter records within a framework that supports the goals of the zoological community including data sharing, while at the same time maintaining global best practices in data protection and security at the institutional level. 

Institutional commitment to using AAM, and the staff engagement required to refine it operationally, has resulted in a fully automated administration that interfaces well with the ZIMS Daily Report, Incomplete Accession and Provisional Data features.

“The value proposition of AAM includes having a transparent and systematic workflow for record keeping processes between animal keepers, registrars and collection managers, that promotes inclusivity and team accountability for related standards,” says Rae Lynn Haliday, CRM, Registrar, for the Saint Louis Zoo.

The Saint Louis Zoo maintains a large and diverse animal collection representing 475 species. More than 120 staff members use ZIMS to record essential information about the care and conservation of animals and collections throughout the zoo.

Additional value has been recognized with AAM being fully operationalized to support remote operations due to the pandemic with little or no disruption to record keeping and related administration. AAM will continue to be a return on investment as the Saint Louis Zoo moves to a multi-facility setup in the near future.

AAM administration is seamless and fully automated.  Auto Assignment roles facilitate immediate access to records of newly acquisitioned, born or hatched animals for relevant employees/departments by using the Incomplete Accession feature.  Auto Assignment roles convert all animals that die or are shipped to Read-Only within the AAM platform, preventing information from being entered while still allowing a historical view of husbandry notes, once an animal is no longer in your collection.

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