Registered as non-profit foundation in the Netherlands, EARS is a unique collaboration of rescue centres and sanctuaries across Europe.
Across Europe, exotic and native wildlife are rescued, rehabilitated and cared for within a variety of captive facilities. These facilities and the animals that reside within them are increasing in number as the legal and illegal trade in wildlife continues unabated, and as the human footprint expands and climate change exerts its impact. In May 2011 the AAP Rescue Centre for Exotic Animals in The Netherlands organised an inaugural meeting of Directors representing sanctuaries, rescue and rehabilitation centres from across Europe. The aim was to consider how best to support and build capacity across European facilities. At the end of this meeting it was unanimously agreed to create the European Alliance of Rescue centres and Sanctuaries (EARS) with the mission to: “Represent rescue centres and sanctuaries across Europe and enable them to work together to achieve mutual animal welfare and conservation goals”.
Rescue centres and sanctuaries that join EARS are known as Partners. For a list of EARS Partners click here. Collectively Partners form the Partner Council. Like any organisation EARS has a board that provides strategic and governance related advice and guidance. Three places on the board are allocated to Partner Council representatives. These representatives directly link the Partner Council and the board, ensuring that Partners have a voice and play a key role in the direction and activities of the organisation. The remainder of board seats is allocated to external experts.
Barbara van Genne, Board Member
Barbara is the Head of Competence Centre Big Cats at FOUR PAWS International. She is involved in wild animal rescues, transfers, sanctuaries, networking and lobbying, both at a strategic and operational level. The work of FOUR PAWS is solution-oriented, campaigning for and taking in rescued bears and big cats. Barbara's passion for nature and animals led her to study biology and become active for animals on a voluntary basis. After obtaining her master’s degree in Marine Biology, she began working for FOUR PAWS in 2009 as campaigner in the Netherlands. Barbara is also an active participant within the Animal Politics Foundation, an international movement of people committed to put animals onto the international political agenda.
David van Gennep, Chair of the Board and Chair of the Partner Council
David van Gennep has been working with AAP Rescue Centre for Exotic Animals in The Netherlands for over 30 years. David first started volunteering at AAP in 1980. Working as a researcher at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture David continued to volunteer at AAP and in 1992 returned as a full time employee to restart the organisation at a new location. In 1995 David was appointed Executive Director of AAP. AAP provides shelter, rehabilitation and relocation to exotic mammal species that originate from the (illegal) trade, pet trade and circuses from all over Europe. AAP not only helps individual animals in need but strives for sustainable solutions. In recent years David’s work has mainly focused on external communication and international collaboration to improve European legislation for exotic animals and their welfare. AAP developed from a small local organisation to one with an international mandate with over 70 employees and many more volunteers. AAP Rescue Centre for Exotic Animals and its sister project Primadomus in Spain are both Partners of EARS.
Elisa Berti, Board Member
Elisa Berti has worked as a volunteer for the wildlife rescue center “Centro Tutela e Ricerca Fauna Esotica e Selvatica Monte Adone” since 1989 when her parents founded the volunteering association. The rescue center is committed to recovering and rescuing wounded autochthonous wild animals and provides lifelong sanctuary for confiscated exotic animals. Elisa’s work has been concentrated mainly in rehabilitation and release of wild animals and management and organisation of volunteers. Her particular field of interest is rehabilitation and release of wolves, and is participating actively in post-release monitoring projects of released animals. She contributes to the writing of guidelines, protocols and recommendations on wildlife management and rehabilitation and was invited as a lecturer in many specialist events and training courses for public officers, veterinary technicians and rescue center operators. In past years she gradually overtook several management roles in the association and in 2019 was appointed as the Director of Monte Adone Rescue Center. Monte Adone Rescue Center is a Partner and founder of EARS.
Rachel Hevesi, Partner Council Representative
Rachel Hevesi is the Director of Wild Futures, a UK based primate welfare and conservation charity that runs The Monkey Sanctuary in Cornwall. Rachel has almost 30 years experience working with primates in the UK and South America and is a specialist in captive care and rehabilitation with a particular interest in woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagothricha) and capuchins (Sapujus and Cebus sp.). She has worked with various NGO’s and government agencies in the UK and abroad, including rescue and rehabilitation projects in habitat countries, as well as writing protocols and advising on enforcement of legislation. Rachel has written two books for children, and contributed to and had her work featured in several specialist publications and on television. Rachel also works as a consultant, speaking and writing about monkeys and their welfare, conservation, behaviour and associated issues. Wild Futures is a Partner of EARS.
Wim DeKok, Board Member
While working as a consultant for AAP Rescue Centre for Exotic Animals Wim launched the idea for a European federation of rescue centres and sanctuaries. He organised the founding meeting of the EARS at AAP in Almere in May 2011. Throughout his career in animal welfare, spanning over 30 years, Wim has built a number of new organisations and networks that are operating successfully to this day, including World Animal Net, a network of 17,000 animal welfare groups around the world. Starting his international career with the No FUR campaign of the WSPA, Wim is now a board member of the Species Survival Network (SSN) and Advisory Board Member of ACT Asia. He lives and works in Boston, where he currently is the Executive Director of Four Paws (Vier Pfoten) USA.
Dave Eastham, Executive Director
Dave oversees all of the work EARS does - in close collaboration with the Board and all of the EARS Partners. This includes representing EARS at European-level meetings and conferences, building relationships with external stakeholders and working with Partners to help to develop their capacity. Dave graduated from Bristol University with a degree in Zoology and went onto pursue his career in wild animal welfare - eventually working at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) where he became Head of Wildlife. Dave developed his skills working on campaigns and projects including bear farming, zoo animal welfare and human wildlife conflict. He has also managed the grant-funding of many projects including anti-poaching initiatives in Africa, primate rescue sanctuaries in Africa and Asia, wildlife rehabilitation and release projects and captive marine mammal campaigns.