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Formation1973; 50 years ago (1973)
TypeInternational not-for-profit organization
PurposeZoo and aquarium animal records database
Websitewww.species360.org Edit this at Wikidata

Species360 (formerly International Species Information System or ISIS) founded in 1974, is an international non-profit organization that maintains an online database of wild animals under human care.[1] As of 2016, the organization serves more than 1,000 zoos, aquariums and zoological associations in 90 countries worldwide.[2] The organization provides its members with zoological data collection and management software called ZIMS—the Zoological Information Management System.

ZIMS project was a large global collaboration with 600 people contributing under the leadership of Nate Flesness, Executive Director of Species360 (1979–2009),[3] and Hassan Syed, CIO of Species360 (2003–2010).[4] The ZIMS database contains information on 22,000 species, 10 million animals, and 82 million medical records.[2] Members use the basic biologic information (age, sex, parentage, place of birth, circumstance of death, etc.) collected in the system to care for and manage their animal collections (including demographic and genetic management in many cases). It is also used for ex situ breeding programs and supporting conservation research and programs.

Since its foundation in 1973, the group has been a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) pursuing wild animal conservation goals. Species360 works in partnership with zoo associations around the world.

Centralized database[edit]

Modern zoos and aquariums often are "gene banks" for endangered species. In some cases, species which have become extinct in the wild and have been bred in zoos are eventually returned to the wild. Examples include the black-footed ferret, California condor, Przewalski's horse, red wolf, Micronesian kingfisher (not yet reintroduced), and the Arabian oryx. Individual zoos generally do not have the space to maintain a viable species population (which for many mammals and birds requires 500+ animals in order to maintain sufficient genetic diversity[5]), so maintaining genetic diversity requires coordination between many zoos. Scientific expertise on husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care and so on is spread throughout the zoos and aquaria of the world. Breeding and population management relies on accurate information about animals in all member institutions, especially pedigree history (parentage) and demography (births and deaths).

Species360 records are accepted by international regulatory bodies such as CITES. Roughly three-quarters of Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) members in North America are members, and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) requires its members to join. The World Association of Zoos and Aquaria's (WAZA) Conservation Strategy Guidelines strongly recommend that all zoo and aquaria join and participate in data sharing via ZIMS.[6]


ZIMS (Zoological Information Management System) for Husbandry
A web-based record-keeping system used by zoos, aquariums, and zoological associations to capture and organize husbandry information. also includes best practices and collaboration opportunities among members.
ZIMS for Medical
A web-based module used to capture and organize: A web-based record-keeping system used by zoos, aquariums, and zoological associations to capture and organize veterinary information.
ZIMS for Studbooks
A web-based record-keeping system used by studbook keepers at zoos, aquariums, and zoological associations to manage the genetics of small populations. This tool is managing over 1300 species studbooks globally and replaced SPARKS, the DOS-based Single Population Analysis and Records Keeping System.

The ZIMS application is the world's first and only real-time, unified global database for animals in zoos and aquariums.[7]

LearnZIMS – the educational version of ZIMS
is made available for licensing to educational organizations teaching animal husbandry, zoo, and aquarium science. This version of ZIMS mirrors the standard ZIMS application but does not include the global database of animal records. LearnZIMS uses a fictitious dataset to teach application functionality and to demonstrate the types of data that are collected in the global database.[8]


Regional association members include:

Species360 and the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZA) have a five-year memorandum of understanding with a primary goal of migrating the majority of the zoos in India into the ZIMS database.

The organization has staff and representatives in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), New Delhi (India), Jerusalem (Israel), Odense (Denmark), and Istanbul (Turkey) with headquarters in Minnesota (US).


In 1973, Ulysses Seal and Dale Makey proposed the International Species Information System (ISIS) as an international database to help zoos and aquariums accomplish long-term conservation management goals. It was founded in 1974 with an initial membership of 51 zoos in North America and Europe, and its membership has increased every year since.[7] Grants and endorsements were provided by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) and other zoological associations. The founders also raised development funding from private foundations and the United States Department of the Interior. For the first 30 years, the Minnesota Zoo hosted the program on their grounds.[7]

Since 1989, the organisation has been incorporated as a non-profit entity under an international Board of Trustees elected by subscribing member institutions.[7] In 2016, the organization was renamed as Species360, due to ISIS being an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist organization.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flesness, N. R. (2003). "International Species Information System (ISIS): over 25 years of compiling global animal data to facilitate collection and population management". International Zoo Yearbook. 38 (1): 53–61. doi:10.1111/j.1748-1090.2003.tb02064.x.
  2. ^ a b "Fact Sheet & Logos". Species360. 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Meet the Team - Species360".
  4. ^ "ISIS Newsletter". myemail.constantcontact.com. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  5. ^ Tudge, Colin (1992). Last Animals at the Zoo: How Mass Extinction Can Be Stopped. Washington, DC: Island Press. ISBN 1-55963-158-9.
  6. ^ WAZA 2009 Conservation Strategy.
  7. ^ a b c d "Mission & History". Species360. 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  8. ^ LearnZIMS educational license of the ZIMS application.
  9. ^ "What's in a name?". Species360. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2017.

External links[edit]