• zoo;
  • measures of performance;
  • ASMP

Species management has been utilized by the zoo and aquarium industry, since the mid-1990s, to ensure the ongoing genetic and demographic viability of populations, which can be difficult to maintain in the ever-changing operating environments of zoos. In 2009, the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia reviewed their species management services, focusing on addressing issues that had arisen as a result of the managed programs maturing and operating environments evolving. In summary, the project examined resourcing, policies, processes, and species to be managed. As a result, a benchmarking tool was developed (Health Check Report, HCR), which evaluated the programs against a set of broad criteria. A comparison of managed programs (n = 98), between 2008 and 2011, was undertaken to ascertain the tool's effectiveness. There was a marked decrease in programs that were designated as weak (37 down to 13); and an increase in excellent programs (24 up to 49) between the 2 years. Further, there were significant improvements in the administration benchmarking area (submission of reports, captive management plan development) across a number of taxon advisory groups. This HCR comparison showed that a benchmarking tool enables a program's performance to be quickly assessed and any remedial measures applied. The increases observed in program health were mainly due to increased management goals being attained. The HCR will be an ongoing program, as the management of the programs increases and goals are achieved, criteria will be refined to better highlight ongoing issues and ways in which these can be resolved. Zoo Biol. 32:230–237, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.