Public policy

Addressing the root causes


Recognized within Europe for its expertise in the welfare and care of primates and other non-domesticated exotic animals, AAP also advocates a society in which their wellbeing is not sacrificed. Our daily experiences over more than 40 years have provided us with a unique perspective on the myriad of problems that these animals endure.

Keeping non-domesticated exotic animals as pets or in inadequate conditions, trading them illegally, exploiting them in the entertainment industry or using them for biomedical research often leads to severe welfare problems.

Thankfully, here also prevention is the best cure: better laws and regulations, better enforcement of the existing ones and more public awareness are the pillars of sustainable solutions for the welfare problems of exotic animals. We can keep rescuing baboons from zoos and degus from private owners for generations to come, but only better policies and legislation will solve the problem for good.

To this end, AAP stimulates public debate and political decision-making, helping draft legislation, providing advice to policy-makers throughout Europe and educating the broader public. We also support partner organizations involved in the same initiatives and are a vocal member of several associations dealing with animal welfare at the national, European and global level.






Grivet Malta, victim of illegal wildlife trade



Our policy programs are based on our 45 years of hands-on experience with non-domesticated, exotic animals. We take on those subjects that are causing or likely to cause the most problems in practice. They sometimes relate to quantity (e.g. when we come across a certain animal species very often), sometimes to quality (the serious abuse of animals in certain conditions), and sometimes to both.

We currently work on the following programs:




Illegale handel
AAP Director David van Gennep meets with EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella and asks for more protection for Barbary macaques

Our principles

AAP believes that non-domesticated, exotic animals are sentient, independent beings regardless of their economic interest. In our philosophy, every animal should be treated as a living being with consciousness and feelings. This involves, among other things, providing animals with the possibility to behave naturally in an environment as similar to their wild habitat as possible.

However, within the legal system of the European Union animals are viewed as 'goods'. This means, in principle, that non-domesticated exotic animals can be traded, kept and used freely. Thankfully, there are some regulations to address specific issues involving these animals in addition to general provisions protecting animal wellbeing.

Nonetheless, existing legislation has many shortcomings and is riddled with loopholes often designed to protect the enormous economic interests that come with the trade and keeping of exotic animals. The intrinsic value of these creatures is usually overlooked.



Save Wildlife conference
AAP collaborates with European agencies such as ENVI-Crime NET to promote better enforcement solutions against wildlife crime.

AAP’s policy work is…

Independent and accessible: AAP is an independent organisation, free of any political or religious persuasion. We can be critical and combative if it serves our purpose, but will always retain a sense of reality and respect for opinions different to ours. Our best results are achieved through constructive dialogue and this is our preferred way of getting things done.

Within the law: AAP exploits every legally permitted resource to promote the wellbeing of non-domesticated exotic animals. We never resort to coercive measures that willfully damage the interests of others, and we adamantly denounce any form of violence or blackmail.

Principled but not dogmatic: At our rescue centre, we are faced daily with very distressing examples of how animal wellbeing is violated. This is one of the reasons why AAP holds very principled viewpoints. However, we know our ideal is seldom reached and we do value a good compromise.

Patient: Legislative and social changes in the field of animal welfare rarely come about quickly. In most projects, it takes years to see results. Perseverance and creativity are essential in our work!



Want to learn more about the other organizations that make our work possible? Read about our Policy partners.

Positive list event
Thanks to the collaboration with our partners, AAP’s initiatives are gaining ground at both EU and national level.