Wildlife Databases

ZIMS will replace existing ISIS database systems such as MedArks and will provide a more accurate and comprehensive system. ZIMS will be Web based, thus allowing users to see collections of animal data from multiple institutions in real time from any authorized computer anywhere in the world. Data will include information on animal health, laboratory accessions, genetics, disease investigations, and animal resource management.

ZIMS will enhance local care and international conservation efforts by providing better and faster access to information. This will increase efficiency, communication, productivity, and data quality of captive animals. Initially, ZIMS will provide access to information on an estimated 2 million animals from almost 700 institutions within 70 countries. ZIMS is developing robust methods for dealing with natural groupings of animals, such as schools of fish, and it will contain information on disease events and processes. Data will be stored within a central repository, allowing effective data mining and surveillance for trends. It will provide a unique level of integration among zoo, aquarium, wildlife, and environmental organizations, thus making it an extremely valuable resource for disease surveillance systems. An advantage of ZIMS will be the identification of common ground between organizations, thereby allowing the development of a prioritization system for further development and research.

The lack of uniform and consistent data recording systems across species is a major problem that prevents unification of wildlife data sources. The Australian National Information Managers Technical Group (NIMTG) was established in 2002 with the objective of encouraging the development of improved data management systems for plant and animal disease surveillance, incident response and recovery, emergency management, and the reporting national and international disease reporting compliance. This group concluded there should be one national data scheme and a set of rules for effective management of disease data. The final version is not available at present (Australian Government Department of Agriculture et al., 2003; Animal Health Australia, 2004).

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