Remarkable Records: Wildlife Edition

Remarkable Records

A common icebreaker question among records professionals is, “What is your favorite record series?”

While we all have our own “favorites,” the twelve local government retention schedules include several series one might call “remarkable,” including this one:

PW5550-03cWILDLIFE RECORDSNecropsy reports on dead marine mammals.  3 years.By regulation – 9 CFR 3.110(g).

Located in Schedule PW: Records of Public Works and Other Government Services, “necropsy” is a word many may find peculiar in a retention schedule. Necropsy, by definition and purpose, determines the health and cause of death of a deceased animal.

Let’s zoom out and take a look at the entire subseries to which this series belongs – PW5550-03 Wildlife Records – which is located in Part 11: Zoo Records.

Upon closer look, in the retention note of Part 10: Parks and Recreation Records, zoos are listed amongst the recreational facilities owned and operated by a local government.

What differentiates this set of zoo-specific records series from the other recreational facility records? Based on observations and research into the record series, zoos are the only recreational facility concerned with the housing and care of live animals by a local government. Ultimately, municipalities are responsible for the health and safety of their citizens, including any patrons of recreational facilities such as zoos. Therefore, the welfare of these animals on display is not only vital from a humanitarian perspective, but also from a citizen wellness stance.

Digging a little deeper into various series provides clues as to why they are separate from the recreational records:

PW5550-01PERMITS AND LICENSESPermits and licenses required by law or regulation from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U. S. Department of Interior, or other federal or state agencies.Expiration or termination + 3 years.

PW5500-01 Permits and Licenses refers to the zoological permits issued by a federal or state agency (such as Texas Parks and Wildlife) under TAC § 69.305, which outlines the minimum standards for housing such as the square footage and space for the animals living in enclosed spaces, and amenities such as clean water and medical treatment.

PW5550-03cWILDLIFE RECORDSNecropsy reports on dead marine mammals.  3 years.By regulation – 9 CFR 3.110(g).

As for the series that first caught our eye, PW5550-03c Wildlife Records is a part of the veterinary care process specific to captive marine mammals. The series documents the cause of death as a part of the marine mammal’s medical history under the care and supervision of the zoo or aquarium. The specificity of this series towards marine mammals might seem odd, however, it is not until the next series that a commonality is drawn.

PW5550-03dWILDLIFE RECORDSWater quality test reports for marine mammal facilities.1 year.By regulation – 9 CFR 3.106(a)(3). 

PW5550-03d Wildlife Records connects to the previous two series in the testing and maintenance of the water quality of any enclosed pools in the marine mammals’ habitat (PW5550-01 Permits and Licenses) and to prevent any harm or detriment to the mammals’ health (PW5550-03c Wildlife Records). Safe water conditions have a direct impact on the health and wellness of the animals contained in the facility. The same goes for the facility’s human visitors.

PW5525-05SWIMMING POOL REPORTSSwimming pool water quality test and analysis reports.3 years.

Elsewhere on Schedule PW, water quality tests on human-grade pools are kept for 3 years, for a similar reason, as a measure to protect the public and ensure the health and safety of any citizens taking a dip.

These water quality series may be located in different parts of the schedule with (seemingly) different purposes, yet they serve the same function: ensuring that there is safe, clean water for both marine mammals and the public.

These zoo-specific records series highlight the importance of the maintenance and care of living animals independent from, but also as a part of protecting, the health and safety of the public. The series record and create transparency in the management of wild animals, since zoos are the only recreational facilities managed by a city that contain living creatures. These records demonstrate how municipalities must account for the health and safety of the animals living in the zoos and the overlapping impact on the health and safety of the public.

These series in this schedule apply to zoos and aquariums that are publicly owned and operated by a municipality. Some of the zoos that are operated publicly in the state of Texas are the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, and the Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth.

Do any of you have a zoo within your jurisdiction? Do any of you use these series? If so, how does your office use them? Are they sufficient in scope and practice? Let us know in the comments below!

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