Wisconsin zoo isn't monkeying around with app

It was like an episode of 'This Old Zoo House.' The koalas were feeling crowded. The reptiles were plotting escape. The elephants milled about listlessly. It was high time that the animals in the Milwaukee County Zoo moved to tonier dwellings.

The zoo moved to its current site in 1958. It houses about 2,000 animals now, said Jennifer Diliberti, the zoo's public relations coordinator.

Using building assessment software from VFA of Boston, county officials are developing an inventory of buildings on the zoo's 200-acre wooded lot to create a five-year capital improvement program.

The goal is to assess the condition of the zoo's buildings and set up a program for 'preventative maintenance,' said Mike Zylka, property management program manager for Milwaukee County. The VFA software will help the county develop a program that identifies maintenance tasks, their frequency and the personnel required for a year, he said.

Zylka and his team are assessing the buildings where the animals live, administration buildings, pools and other structures. VFA's software has a module that will help the zoo assess costs for storm water management and maintenance.

Cool penguins

One especially delicate area is the penguin exhibit, Zylka said. To assess the electrical system, zoo officials will have to shut down the zoo's power for a few hours. But the penguins need a constant flow of chilled air, so Zylka said he couldn't shut off the power without a backup supply.

'In the zoo, no time is a good time,' Zylka said. 'There's always some special event or activity going on.'

Zylka runs the VFA software on the county's Novell NetWare network. Users access the software through a Web browser. Milwaukee uses VFA Version 5.1 with Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 5.5. It works with Oracle Corp. or Microsoft SQL Server databases, said Amy Rosenfield, marketing manager for VFA. The software works with CAD drawings and digital photos.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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