Leading zoos and aquariums keep meticulous records on the animals and enclosures in their care. The weight of a juvenile, the behavior of a group, or changes in water temperature provide insight to animal welfare. Taken globally, seemingly small points of data are essential to establishing Global Medical Resources used to treat illness or shaping conservation policy to protect populations.
To master best practices in recording and using animal data, more than two dozen individuals participated in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) 2023 Professional Development course in Institutional Records Keeping. Attendees traveled to the course from a wide range of institutions and locations, including zoos and aquariums serving communities in North, Central, and Latin America. Species360 Training and Member Support representatives taught modules throughout the course, continuing more than 20 years of partnership supporting the AZA course.
Held in mid-February, the Institutional Records Keeping course provided a deep dive into the “why’s” and “whats” of modern data management for zoos and aquariums. Students walked through the role of integrated husbandry and medical records in improving the care and welfare of individuals and groups, as well as best practices for maintaining accurate records inside the institution and across regional and global cooperative species management programs.
The course used the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) to show students how to manage collaborative care and breeding programs, conduct permitting and shipping processes required during animal transfers, and more.
The course also introduced students to AZA Regional Studbooks, including how to document the pedigree and demographic history of each individual in a population. These collective histories, compiled and maintained by an AZA Regional Studbook Keeper, provide information about the population’s genetic and demographic identity, and are valuable tools to track and manage each individual or group as part of a single, ex-situ population.
The separate “Population Management I: Data Management and Processing” course equipped students to successfully manage a studbook and provide expertise on the biology and history of the population in their care. Students received training in science-based aspects of population management as well as methods for understanding and managing an AZA Animal Program using software required to maintain such databases.
Thanks to all who attended the AZA courses this year!