Registered as non-profit foundation in the Netherlands, EARS is a unique collaboration of rescue centres and sanctuaries across Europe.

Our history
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”.

Organisational structure
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.

Board
David van Gennep, Interim 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.

Wim DeKok, External 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.

Sonja Van Tichelen, External board member
Sonja Van Tichelen leads the IFAW Brussels European Union office. Appointed in September 2012, Sonja and her team work with EU institutions and countries to ensure the EU maintains and develops strong pro-welfare and conservation policies. Sonja turned her strong interest in sustainable development and animal welfare into a career when she joined Eurogroup for Animals as a campaign coordinator in 1992. In 1997, she was promoted to Eurogroup deputy director and then director in 2004. Twenty years of work in animal-welfare policy have ensured a thorough knowledge of European and international animal-protection issues. Sonja has a thorough understanding of EU animal-protection laws and legislative procedures as well as international standard setting, established contacts and good working relations with the main civil-society groups, relevant industry stakeholders and academia. Sonja was instrumental in introducing animal welfare as part of the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy as well as in convincing the EU to adopt its first Animal Welfare Action Plan in 2006. She contributed greatly to the campaigns to obtain EU Treaty Changes which finally resulted in the recognition of animals as sentient beings and a specific Treaty Article (13) on animal welfare in the Lisbon Treaty.

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.

Staff
Dave Eastham, Executive Director
Dave EARS smallDave 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.