Despite volumes of data currently available on mankind, it is surprising how little we know about other species. A paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) – using data recorded by Wildlife World Zoo in collaboration with other zoos and aquariums worldwide – confirms that critical information, such as fertility and survival rates, is missing from global data for more than 98 percent of known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

That changed when researchers added data from a previously untapped source, the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). Across classes of species, key blanks fill with salient data. Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park records their animal data in ZIMS, which is curated by wildlife professionals working within zoos, aquariums, refuge, research, and education centers in 97 countries. It is maintained by Species360, a non-profit member-driven organization that facilitates information sharing among its nearly 1,200 institutional members and is the world’s largest set of wildlife data. Wildlife World Zoo has been contributing data on their animals since 1985.

“It seems inconceivable. Yet scientists tasked with saving species often have to power through with best-guess assumptions that we hope approximate reality,” said lead researcher and Species360 Conservation Science Alliance director Dalia A. Conde.

A multidisciplinary team led by Species360 Conservation Science Alliance, with participants from 19 institutions, believes we can substantially increase what we know by applying new analytics to data that has been long overlooked – using data contributed by Wildlife World Zoo and other zoos and aquariums around the world. “Wildlife World has added data on 10361 birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals of 840 species, making a huge impact on the understanding of those species’ life histories. Providing that missing data – filling in those gaps – is game-changing for these species,” adds Mickey Ollson, the Director of Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park.

The team of 33 scientists including data analysts, biologists, and population dynamics specialists developed the first Species Knowledge Index to map just how much we know about species worldwide. The index aggregates, analyzes and maps data from 22 databases and the IUCN Red List of Threatened species.

As an USDA licensed, private institution, accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park receives zero taxpayer funding. No tax dollars have ever been spent to build or operate Wildlife World in its 35-year history.

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, AZ (SE Corner of State Route 303 and Northern Ave.) Open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays. Zoo exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last zoo admission is at 4:30 p.m.) Aquarium exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission includes access to the Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park.

For more info: (623) 935-WILD (9453) or visit Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @ZooWildlife, and www.WildlifeWorld.com