Technology Upgrades Are for the Birds

Our new wireless camera system recorded this video of Demoiselle Cranes Gracie and Caspian enjoying a winter day in Crane City.

Crane Conservation Department animal record-keeping system gets an upgrade 

With support from an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, our Crane Conservation Department recently completed a data migration of their animal record-keeping system from an aging custom-built database to ZIMS – Zoological Information Management System, a web-based database program managed by Species360.

ZIMS has been the main record-keeping system for flock medical records, and we have used the database for several years for other purposes. The database wasn’t being used to its full potential, however, because the bulk of our animal management records remained in the custom database. This data migration was significant in uniting all records into one comprehensive database – 371,438 records were transferred from our original database!  More than 1,000 Species360 members across 90 countries use the ZIMS database, providing an incredible opportunity to share data and connect with animal managers worldwide.  

The data migration includes many months of the Species360 team working with our Aviculture staff to format the data from our old record-keeping system into the ZIMS program. The process culminated with a two-day training for Aviculture staff at our headquarters in December 2019, pictured above, generously funded by Ireene Sullivan 

An example record from the new database for Whooping Crane Gee Whiz.

Species 360 is a global non-profit, membership-based organization dedicated to systematically gathering and sharing zoological information about the animals and species in the collective care of member organizations. Species360 manages the database interface and data integrity for their clients, and their team is constantly developing and updating the product. 

In addition to modernizing our data management system, the move to ZIMS ensures the integrity of our research and husbandry data, improves the accessibility of these critical data for the future and enables us to share the history and data about individual birds with our partner institutions. 

New camera system for crane husbandry 

As part of the ongoing renovations to our breeding facility, Crane City, we are upgrading our camera technology to a wireless system that allows us to place more cameras than ever before, with much less maintenance. The new camera system was installed by local contractor Baycom who installed a network of antennas throughout Crane City. Up to four cameras will be attached to each antenna, which will transmit the data back to our network. The new system means new, more advanced cameras and interfaces that make it easier for our staff to review footage from their computers, wherever they are on our site. As a result, our aviculture staff will spend less time caring for camera equipment and more time taking care of the birds. 

Special thanks to the Dohmen Family Fund and Ireene Sullivan for making this project possible!


Kim Boardman Dorn MooreStory submitted by Kim Boardman, Curator of Birds, and Dorn Moore, Geospatial and Information Services Manager. Click here to learn more about our Global Headquarters.