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Aug 08, 2013

DelVal zoo science majors get access to the field’s leading animal records management solution

Sam Cohen DelVal zoo science major Sam Cohen '14.

Delaware Valley College, in Doylestown, Pa., is the first college in the world to purchase access to an educational version of the software platform that zoos and aquariums worldwide use to record, manage and share vital animal information.  Starting in the fall 2013 semester, zoo science majors at the College will be able to use a training version of the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). ZIMS is the world-standard animal inventory software used by more than 800 institutions in 80 countries.  Students will get a chance to practice using the training version of ZIMs before they graduate, which will give them an edge when applying for zoo and aquarium positions.

Record-keeping is so important in the field because it allows zoo professionals to track information about the collection, a specific animal’s history and heritage, medical records, diet, and even enrichment activities. For conservation efforts and breeding programs, this type of data is especially important.

Two other educational institutions, Reaseheath College in the U.K, and Portland Community College are looking into integrating the system into their curriculums. Reaseheath purchased access after DelVal. Professional organizations are also considering the training version of ZIMS as a tool.

With an educational membership, DelVal students have access to the ZIMS online animal inventory instructional technology as a learning tool.  The platform offers an interactive, dynamic approach to help students learn.  Students will be able to use this version to learn concepts of managing animals in human care, including tracking data on: age, identification methods, sex and life-stages, pedigree, studbook management, management of endangered animals, animal enrichment, behavioral training, medical data management, enclosure design and maintenance, and life support system design and maintenance.

Students will access the practice version of the system both on and off campus. The College, in partnership with ZIMS-provider, International Species Information System (ISIS), will fully train students on use of the system and prepare them to effectively use the software platform at zoos and aquariums when they enter the field.

In the College’s Animal Record-Keeping course, which is being offered for zoo science juniors and seniors for fall 2013, students will input data for a virtual zoo using the practice version of ZIMS. There are approximately 15 students in the course.

Students will run a virtual zoo, designing exhibits, entering inventory for the zoo, and learning about how record-keeping enhances care of animals, aids international conservation efforts and more.

“Accurate record-keeping and sharing of information with institutions worldwide is absolutely necessary for this field,” said Maggie Liguori, a DelVal faculty member. “We’re tracking animals from birth to death; we have to track genetics for generations.”

She said the access combines nicely with the College’s focus on experiential learning and gives students a resource they wouldn’t have until they were in the field.

“I think it will have a huge impact on our students’ job searches,” said Liguori. “The person reading the resume is going to stop and look at it twice during the interview and ask. Applicants who bring this type of experience at such a young age are rare.”

Sam Cohen ’14, is looking forward to using the program.

“I am very excited to have access to ZIMS, as we are the first school to have it integrated into our curriculum,” said Cohen. “DelVal students will have an advantage over other job applicants and even people already working in the zoo field.”

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