Frequently asked questions
Is the ZIMS application 
available offline? 

ZIMS is web-based and you will need to be connected to the Internet to use it. However, ISIS is working on an appliance solution that would allow institutions to use ISIS software onsite.
What kinds of functions will the ZIMS application have that makes it better than ARKS?

ZIMS Release 1 replaces all of what ARKS does right now plus add more functionality. ISIS will continue to build new releases, which will contain additional functionality.

A few examples of some of the additional functionality that the ZIMS application has or will have include:
  • Easy accession of animals from other ISIS member institutions. Instead of re-entering data, you just click on it.
  • The ability to define life support systems, assign them to an enclosure, tank or series of them.
  • Transponder inventory – implanted, assigned, or on the shelf.
  • Enclosure maintenance, including the ability to track details.
  • Options for tracking groups by count, life stages, sex; tracking merges and splits, moves between institutions, etc.
  • Ability to track water quality measurements and feeding logs.
  • Ability to manage staff through departments, teams and roles.
  • A central place to maintain a list of contacts at your institutions.
  • Ways to track permit applications; assign permits received to animals and enclosures.
  • Ability to keep egg records and tracking. Record pre-birth events such as eggs laid and the presence of a fetus.
  • Options for creating your own institutional preferences for language, time zone, use of multiple enclosures and items in activity reports.
  • Ability to track animals released to the wild, track after release where possible.
  • ...and much more!
How will members be trained on the ZIMS application?

ISIS member institutions receive 10 seats – or training for 10 staff members as part of your ISIS membership beginning in your ZIMS deployment period.

More information on ZIMS training...
Tell me more about the "On-Site" training for the ZIMS application. 

ISIS will offer onsite training as part of our Premium Services packages.
An additional option for "in-person" training is the ISIS Users' Workshops.
If you are interested in learning more, please contact memberservices@isis.org.
What are the hardware requirements for the ZIMS application? 

ZIMS is an online application. Any computer that can run Internet Explorer 8 or higher, and that has a high-speed connection to the Internet should work fine.
Recommended Configuration:
Processor: Intel or AMD Dual Core Processor or faster
RAM: 2GB or more
Operating System: Windows 7 or later
Web Browser: Current Web Browser (IE9 or later, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox)
Internet Connection Bandwidth: T1 or better, LAN
Minimum Configuration
Processor: Intel or AMD Processor 2.2GHz
RAM: 1GB or more
Operating System: Windows XP SP3

Web Browser: Current Web Browser (IE8 or later, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox)
Internet Connection Bandwidth: DSL/Cable (768 Kbps or faster), LAN
What changes can keepers expect when we start using the ZIMS application? 

What should we be doing at this point to prepare our keepers for this transition? 

Each institution will choose how different staff interact with ZIMS, but a typical keeper might find herself recording animal observations, weights, enclosure observations, etc. into ZIMS.
Overall, the expectation is that the traditionally "registrar-entered" data will be entered by a wider variety of folks -- those closer to the action!
Will ZIMS have a limit in the number of animals?

No, no limits.

What are the note codes in the ZIMS application? 




Where will my custom ARKS note codes go into ZIMS?

If you have custom note codes, they will all be put under "Notes and Attachments" for the animal. If you would like to migrate them in a different way, please contact ISIS as we might be able to do a custom note migration for you as a premium service.



Notes in ZIMS are very different than notes in ARKS.  Anything (animal, staff, enclosure, etc.) can have a note attached to it, and the note type (closest thing to "note code" that ZIMS has) varies based on what you are attaching the note to.  For example, for animals, there are nearly a dozen note types (as of 2/2/2010).  For each of those, there are sub-types, e.g. for the Animal Information note type, there are 11 sub-types.
What note codes will be migrated into ZIMS from my ARKS?
ZIMS – the lifetime single Animal Record dream comes true…
(with a few possible surprises)
ZIMS is different than the multiple isolated institutional records systems that came before. The fundamental difference is the lifetime single animal record in ZIMS, not multiple sets of separate institutional records, all more or less referring to the same animal.
This ZIMS lifetime animal record delivers much more consistent and efficient information … and much saving of data re-entry retyping… but a few consequences of the “dream come true” may surprise some users:
How many birthdates does one animal actually have?
In ZIMS, just one. In the previously separated institutional records systems, each institution that held the animal recorded a birthdate – not always the same one. Usually later holders received less information, so the date often lost precision as the animal moved along (kind of like the children’s game where something is whispered around a circle and tends to change as it goes along).
Usually the information is best at the beginning (where they may even have witnessed the birth), so ZIMS uses the first holder’s birthdate. This is the approach used for the ISIS website specimen reports for the last 10 years.
How many different taxonomic classifications describe one animal?
In ZIMS, it is fundamentally just one. Because taxonomy is determined by parentage or provenance (origin information), ZIMS’ taxonomy is normally set by the first reporting holder of the animal (like ISIS website specimen reports have done for the last 10 years). Later holders can record a locally-preferred name for their institutional use, if they wish. Should a later holder perform a high-resolution molecular study that provides high confidence taxonomic data results (that they are willing to share), ZIMS makes provision for this special case where a later holder may have the best taxonomic information for the animal and it can then be corrected in the single record.

If you loan an animal to another institution, do they own it?
In ARKS, sometimes yes. In ZIMS, no. This is a BIG improvement. With local institutional animal records systems, all manner of confusion and conflicts arose over transaction terms, ownership, etc. ISIS legacy systems collected tens of thousands of transactions where the sender and receiver do NOT agree on whether or not ownership was transferred, and even more transactions where the terms are not agreed on (one says it’s a sale, the other a donation, etc).
These conflicts were pointed out, but many were never resolved. These confusions cause a huge amount of wasted staff time and effort, and make ownership a muddle for some animals. In ZIMS, like legal transactions in the rest of real life, the sender controls the terms (when you buy a car or a house or anything we can think of, the seller sets the terms … or there is no sale).
How many times does one animal die?
In ZIMS, just once. With ARKS, deaths of animals out on loan had to be recorded where they happened, and also recorded by the owner in order to take them off the owner’s owned-animal-inventory. With ZIMS, recording a death record of an animal in-on-loan automatically removes the animal from the owner’s owned-animal-inventory.
Will ISIS allow data from outside the ZIMS application into the global database?




When members first begin using the ZIMS application, ISIS will move your data into the ZIMS database as part of the deployment process. (If this data is not from ISIS systems, we will work with you to determine how to move your data into the ZIMS database.)

ISIS has announced that our future development plans will not include a pathway for data from applications outside of the ZIMS environment – like the Tracks® application – to be brought into the ZIMS database.

As these applications were developed for use by a limited number of institutions, they do not include either the multi-institution business rules nor the ISIS-member-driven standards that are included in the core of the ZIMS application. Our community has spent countless hours and resources to assure that these principles are upheld in the ZIMS application, and we feel we must protect the integrity of these features in all future development.


ZIMS security
 Authorized access to your data
The goal in the ZIMS application is to follow the same data access and sharing policies that were used in previous ISIS systems. The ISIS-Board approved data sharing and privacy policy has been in place since 1995. This will not change in the ZIMS application.
ISIS members have limited access to information outside of their facilities as depicted in the ISIS data access and sharing graph (PDF).
Public can see who has a species of interest, how many. No more.
ISIS members can see specimen basic data (birth date sex, parents, identifiers, death date, summary cause, etc.)
ISIS members can extract one species’ basic data in rough studbook format.
In addition, ISIS may honor requests for pooled, anonymous data for research requests that require large sample sizes that only animal data from hundreds of institutions pooled together could generate (e.g. lifespan calculation or epidemiology).
Learn more about research requests
Other areas of security:   

(Network, Server, Firewall)
SAS70 Level II certified hosting facility, Cisco firewalls, 256 bit SSL encryption, regular security audits, 24x7 monitoring against attacks

Application Security (User IDs, functional access)
Inside the Application:
In release 1.3 ZIMS provides your staff the ability to restrict access to the ZIMS Application to a specified IP address range and provides you the ability to enforce single-session restrictions for your staff accounts.  Along with these enhanced options, your ZIMS administrators are able to see when your staff are logged in and are able to close any open connections.
Programming Security:
Microsoft standard authentication, encrypted passwords, role level security trimming, isolation of Database from UI and business logic, only authorized application servers can access database, audit stamp for each database record, database level change audit to track update.
Saving your data

How will my data be backed up in the ZIMS application?

The ZIMS database is hosted at a secure, offsite facility. ZIMS data is backed-up at multiple locations and stored on a fault tolerant, expandable storage area network, featuring RAID 5 disk array with hot swappable spare drives.* 

It is backed-up on a frequent and routine basis with maximum care given to protect our members’ data in case of an emergency.

*RAID 5 is an collection (array) of three or more hard drives that work in unison to ensure that even when a single drive in the collection fails the system loses no data and a new drive can be swapped in to the array then the system is still running (hot).


​Do I need to worry about backing up my own data?

No. Since the ZIMs application is professionally managed and hosted. You do not need to backup your own data. Therefore, ZIMS does not provide a mechanism to backup an individual institution’s data.

However, ZIMS does provide functionality to export data to common format such as Excel and PDF. This could be used to backup your data if needed.

How will my data be backed up in the ZIMS application?
The ZIMS application is hosted at a secure, offsite facility that provides an uninterruptible power supply.  This ensures application and data accessibility to the highest standard possible.
ZIMS blog
The ZIMS blog provides up-to-date information on the ZIMS project and other ISIS news.

Read the ZIMS blog