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Year in Review: An update to members from Species360 CEO Jim Guenter

Dear Species360 Member, 

As we begin what promises to be an exciting and productive year, I would like to reflect on the past year and its many achievements as a result of our members’ support. 

First, as you saw in our recent announcement, we expanded Species360 with the addition of botanical record keeping software, Hortis and its team of experts. We are very excited about the many implications of joining our teams, in particular the impact of our combined strengths in software development, data management, scientific research, and serving our members.

I travelled to Amsterdam where I met the Hortis team and finalized their joining Species360. From left to right: Dave Twomey, Product Designer; Jim Guenter, Species360 CEO; Havard Ostgard, former CEO of Hortis and now Director of Botanical Solutions, Species360, Miles Crighton, Engineer; and Dr. Waheed Arshad, Botanical Scientist, Species360.

Combining teams to support flora and fauna is timely, as we were encouraged by the heightened awareness of the role of zoos, aquariums, wildlife refuges, and botanical gardens in sustaining populations. This was evidenced in the action taken by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to recognize and encourage greater involvement by the in situ community in species conservation. The IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, convened in 2021 and celebrated in reports throughout 2022, adopted Resolution79 to link in situ and ex situ efforts to save threatened species. 

The resolution calls for closer collaboration between zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens and for the collection of data to inform conservation efforts. This is our role and our focus: we enable our members to record and share information on the animals and habitats in their care, in a way that delivers insight today and secures data for tomorrow. Founded in collaboration with wildlife veterinarians, Species360 and the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) today provide the world’s largest source of demographic, medical, genetic, and other data on animals in human care.

A snapshot of a Survival, Reproduction and Growth (SRG) report from ZIMS for cheetah.

This legacy of scientific insight guides our work and expands what we know about species worldwide. Among the examples of shared data impacting species conservation is the Survival, Reproduction, and Growth Reports now gaining widespread use among Species360 members. These reports draw upon data recorded in ZIMS and provide wildlife managers with missing information required to predict survival timelines and manage populations of species and subspecies.

Further value is derived from new Reproductive Dashboards released in ZIMS for Studbooks. Drawing on demographic data, this new, more detailed dashboard was the highest requested feature in a 2021 survey of ZIMS for Studbooks users, and we were happy to introduce it in February of 2022. The dashboard provides managers with easier, faster access to demographic and reproductive information that helps them to make critical breeding and population management decisions on behalf of their species.

Throughout 2022, we introduced a plethora of new ZIMS features and functionality, including: more efficient ways for aquarists to record and manage water quality, chemical addition, and graphing; templates that make it easier for groups to share strategy and standards for tracking key welfare indicators by species; ZIMS for Medical data sharing with Vet Advisors and global medical resources and global data for 600 additional species; and a new vet advisors data sharing program. We also used a training platform from The Nature Conservancy to launch a popular new online course, ZIMS for Keepers and Aquarists, that makes it easier to onboard new staff.

The new ZIMS for Aquarist and Keepers course is aimed at providing animal care staff with the skills to enter daily aquarist and keeper information into ZIMS.

Our Conservation Science Alliance team worked wonders with ZIMS and other global data sources to provide new information to conservation efforts. This included published insights to turtle, parrot, marine mammal and elephant longevity, and the Species Knowledge Initiative (SKI) on Songbirds in support of CITES, with SKIs on Sharks and rays, and ornamental fish soon to follow. These research efforts are increasing what we know about the animal kingdom and are providing scientific evidence to inform animal care, welfare and conservation efforts. You can read more about the role of member data, as well as how it is shared in one of my blogs from last year.

The Songbird Species Knowledge Initiative on Songbirds was created by the CSA to support CITES decision making.

Towards the end of the year, a Species360 delegation attended the CITES Conference of the Parties (Cop19) in Panama to represent our members, and present the CSA research and SKI reports. It was a good opportunity to share about how our members’ data can be a valuable tool to inform CITES decision making, and better focus conservation efforts to where it will be most impactful. I invite you to read more about Species360’s involvement in conferences and our participation in CITES CoP19.

Ninety aquariums and zoos, universities, conservation agencies and other institutions joined Species360 as new members in 2022. With this growth comes an influx of data on individual animals and groups of species. In particular, our new aquarium members bring with them a wealth of aggregated aquatic species data that can contribute to global resources and research.  Aquatic species in general are underrepresented in standardized and aggregated data sets, like ZIMS. 

Working alongside Species360 Husbandry, Aquatics, Medical, and Studbooks experts, our development and IT team launched a modernization program for ZIMS, sustained a consistent schedule of ZIMS feature releases, and expanded the way that we serve our member zoos and aquariums. We also introduced new levels of virtual and in-person training, and advanced our member support and communications.

I would like to acknowledge and thank our Species360 Board of Trustees, who represent a diverse array of regions and organizations, and who selflessly offer their time and insights to support our mission.

The Species360 Board of Trustees and some members of the Lead Team at our board meeting in Tenerife, following the WAZA Annual Conference last year.

We are truly grateful to you and to all of our members worldwide for your work on behalf of wildlife. You are a lifeline for species threatened in the wild, and provide an invaluable link between humanity and the world in which we live.

Thank you for your support and best regards for a happy new year!


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