Thursday, May 1, 2014

Key Control Shouldn't Be Like a Zoo

Over the years, several zoo key control mishaps have made headlines. During the late '90s, Nala the lioness escaped from a Florida zoo while handlers were cleaning her cage. Back in the '30s, almost 200 Rhesus monkeys took over Long Island after their enclosure was left open one night. In China, a zookeeper was arrested after he failed to lock the gate to the tiger area, resulting in the death of a visitor.

In situations like these, key control systems can provide vital intelligence about what goes on behind the scenes at your zoo. Below are three benefits to tracking zoo keys electronically.

Detailed Reports Provide an Inside Look at Your Key Activity


gorilla plotting his escape from a zooAutomated key management systems generate reports sorted by employee, time, date and key, which helps your zoo keep exhibit keys organized while also providing granular information about employees' activities.

Each key has a unique ID within the system, so you'll be able to see if employees are accessing enclosures when they shouldn't be, as in the case of a Cumbria zookeeper who was mauled after she entered a tiger enclosure without permission.


Access Levels Provide Employee Accountability


Though zookeepers are expected to know how to care for all animals, most zookeepers prefer to stick with one animal throughout their careers. For this reason, not all zookeepers need access to every key, but if all exhibit keys are kept in a single cabinet without varying levels of security, any employee can take any key. 

A key system that has a total lockdown feature can prevent keys from falling into the wrong zookeeper's hands. When provided with the appropriate password, fingerprint or security card, the system will unlock only the applicable keys. Access levels are especially helpful for senior-level zookeepers who manage a team of keepers that access different exhibits. If you require a fingerprint to access multiple keys, the system will only unlock keys for the designated employees.


You Have a Starting Point for Tracking Down Escaped Animals


In the event that a breakout occurs, an automated key control system can show you the exact moment a key is taken and who took it, so you can speak with the person who checked out the keys to get more details about what happened during that time.

For example, if Jim accesses the gorilla cage key at 2:55 p.m. and Susan notices at 3:15 p.m. that the gorilla has escaped through the unlocked cage door, she'll know to ask Jim if he noticed anything unusual when he was at the gorilla enclosure.

Once you start tracking keys electronically, you'll be able to identify weaknesses in key management processes to help you make sure your zoo doesn't end up in the headlines.

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