5 ESC-volunteers at AAP Almere (start June 2019)

Chimpanzee Complex

AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection is dedicated to a better future for exotic animals, such as primates, raccoons and lions. Unfortunately, there are still many animals living under dire conditions. They are traded illegally, kept as house pets or abused in the tourist and entertainment industries. We tackle this problem at source. Our foundation provides information and pleads for more effective animal legislation throughout Europe.

For animals that need urgent help, we provide shelter so they can recover. Our team heals them and helps them regain their lives as animals. Afterwards we look for a permanent placement for them. That way we make room in our Dutch and Spanish centres for other animals in need.

In addition, we share our knowledge and we are more than pleased to cooperate with similar organizations in order to enhance our impact.

AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection, a Dutch Animal Welfare NGO, has experience as an ESC Receiving Organization since 2008. In 2012, we also took over the task of Coordinating Organization. Since then AAP offers 10 ESC positions three times a year. Soon, we will be applying again to the Erasmus+ Programme.

What: European Solidarity Corps as a volunteer Animal Care at AAP, Almere, the Netherlands

When: From June 2019 till May 2020

Duration: 12 months

How many: five ESC-volunteers between 18 and 30 yrs of age

Nationality/residency: Any EU-nationality and residency outside The Netherlands

How to apply: Send your motivation letter and CV to Muriel.van.der.heijden@aap.nl mentioning ESC-ALM-2019-R1 in the subject of your mail.

Background on receiving organisation

AAP is a European rescue center for exotic animals. The animals that end up with AAP often come from illegal trade, research laboratories, circuses, illegal zoos or directly from private individuals. The organisation specialises in the rescue and rehabilitation of exotic mammals such as primates, raccoons, skunks and prairie dogs. Prior to their arrival at AAP they often have been seriously abused and severely neglected. At AAP the animals receive the professional care needed for their recovery. AAP’s aim is to make the animals mentally and physically healthy and to place them in a more natural environment, such as a natural enclosure or in a renowned zoo.

Social and work environment

As an ESC- volunteer at AAP you will be part of a large group of volunteers who work within AAP. The volunteer will be in close contact with employed staff, other volunteers and many interns.
AAP is located on a recreational area in Almere, “De Kemphaan”. It is an attractive area with different organisations working with nature. There is a biological farm, a place where youngsters learn about nature, where children with fewer opportunities can have a free vacation and of course there is AAP. “De Kemphaan” is located 8 km from the city center.
AAP has two guest houses, one on its own premises and one in the residential areas of the city. Here you will live together not only with other ESC- volunteers but also with other volunteers who work at AAP but who are not associated with ESC. Tasks to be performed with regard to the volunteer house are also part of the ESC-experience. You will act as a contact between the residents and AAP, which will give you the opportunity to improve your managerial and social skills. In general, staying in the AAP-volunteer house gives you an opportunity to participate in social activities and learn more about the Dutch culture.
On occasion AAP also organizes meetings for all volunteers and friends of the organization.

As a Coordinating Organization, AAP will also arrange for the necessary requirements, such as language support, pocket money etc.. The staff of Animal Care Departments takes care of thorough training and guidance in the voluntary work of all new volunteers. Moreover, as ESC-volunteer, during your project you will participate in trainings organised centrally by the Dutch National Agency, you will come into contact with ESC-volunteers from other projects and activities of partner NGOs in Almere and the rest of the country. If you want to know more about being an ESC-volunteer, please download the Erasmus+ Programme Guide.


As a volunteer you will be working in an active and flexible organisation. Despite the fixed project description, there are many opportunities for personal growth when volunteering at AAP. Within the ESC-year, you will experience all four animal care departments of AAP, i.e. quarantine and three rehabilitation departments for small mammals, primates and chimpanzees respectively. At all departments you will actively take part in the caretaking process of different kinds of exotic animal species. Experienced animal caretakers provide you with thorough training and guidance.

AAP strongly prefers having volunteers for 1 year. The volunteers will have the opportunity to experience multiple aspects of animal care within the organisation. There will be fixed routines and tasks you have to perform but after some time there will be opportunities to change tasks, depending on your abilities, interests and especially attitude.

The kind of ESC-activities AAP offers

Animal Caretaker

  • Works 4 days a week in a team of experienced animal caretakers and will be trained to carry out daily activities independently.
  • Is responsible for cleaning the animals’ enclosures.
  • Assists in furnishing the animals’ enclosures, e.g. replacing floor covering of enclosures and erecting beams and other structures.
  • Makes enrichment items for the animals to stimulate natural behavior and keeps an eye on their overall behavior.
  • Helps to prepare food and feeds the animals.
  • Takes care of small maintenance.
  • Reports peculiarities to the experienced caretakers and takes part in writing daily reports on the animals’ health and care.

At AAP the main focus is on the animals’ welfare so the majority of your activities will be directly linked to this. The team leaders of the different departments will decide on what kind of responsibilities you will be assigned with; this depends on the progress you are making and the confidence, reliability and understanding you show to the caretakers and team leaders. This means that activities of several ESC-ers may be different. How your individual responsibilities and tasks evolve during your ESC-project is largely dependent on you!

Also, all ESC-ers at AAP are involved in proper management of the AAP guest houses (for details see section ‘Social and Working Environment’), which will challenge your social and managerial skills.

Profile of the ECS-volunteer

Because this project is for a maximum period of time in the ESC project, AAP, as a Receiving and Coordinating Organisation, has certain requirements in regard to volunteer skills.

Basic requirements: 18-30 years old, EU nationality and residency outside the Netherlands

  • Being able to speak proper English
    Clear communication is important for your own safety and that of your colleagues. As an ESC-volunteer at AAP, you work with potentially dangerous animals. If the volunteer does not speak English we will have problems communicating. During your ESC project you will develop your English skills further by communicating with your fellow volunteers. Almost everybody in the Netherlands speaks proper English.
  • Being motivated
    A project that lasts for 12 months needs motivated volunteers. Please let us know in your motivation letter why you want to join the project.
  • Be aware that this ESC project is hard and physical work
    This ESC project involves a lot of physical work. Depending on the department where you will work, up to 60% will involve cleaning but you can enjoy the animals in the process. Unfortunately we cannot make exceptions as to the  amount of cleaning, that is why you need to be passionate about the animals, otherwise you will not enjoy this ESC- experience.
  • Having affinity and some experience in working with animals
    AAP’s main activity is taking care of exotic animals that need temporary housing and/or specialised care. The volunteer must realise that most animals show signs of trauma and need to be resocialised with members of their own species. It’s important that they are not handled as pets. We call this our ‘hands off policy’. The interaction between the caretaker and the animal should always be minimal. The fact that the animals develop towards a more natural life should be the cause of satisfaction.
  • Having no allergies
    Having allergies for animal fur is problematic as you have to be around animals on a daily basis.
  • Being able to deal with strict protocols
    For your safety and for the sake of the animals there are strict protocols to work by. You must be able to work by these protocols. Mistakes can be dangerous for you, your colleagues and the animals.
  • Having no problem working one day in the weekend
    Animals don’t have a weekend break like we do. This means you have to work one Saturday or Sunday every week. Of course in return you will get one day off during the middle of the week. It’s an ESC-rule, that every week the volunteers have at least two subsequent days off. In general, at AAP we work in two work-time schedules: one team taking care of the animals from Sundays to Wednesdays and another one from Wednesdays to Saturdays.

Tasks performed by sending organisation (SO)

  • AAP operates with sending costs of 480 Euro for each volunteer in all of its projects.
  • In all cases, AAP Almere supports her projects by acting as Coordinating Organization (CO).
  • For preparation, the SO is much advised to provide the volunteer with two books: “The UnDutchables” (by Colin White and Lauren Boucke) and “Embracing uncertainty” (by Susan Jeffers). These books appear to be very valuable in preparing the volunteer for coming to the Netherlands and for being able to handle the ESC project successfully. Preferably, the SO provides the volunteer with both books during the pre-departure period.
  • The SO is in charge of all preparations of the volunteer prior to his/her arrival to AAP, Almere, the Netherlands.
  • The SO is responsible for making sure the CIGNA insurance is completely in order before arrival of the volunteer. Upon arrival we need a copy of the CIGNA card from the volunteer and an enrollment form.
  • Reimbursement of travel costs is always transferred to the volunteer’s bank account (or their SO in case they have taken care of advanced payment) after the first month of the project. 

Important notices for volunteer

  • If you, at the moment of applying, have a SO, please add the contact data (name, mobile number and direct e-mail) of your SO-agent in your application letter. If you don´t have one yet, we are willing and able to help you finding a reliable one.
  • AAP provides language-support for two hours a week for at least three months. This support is focused on basic communication skills and pronunciation in the Dutch language. After this initial period, the volunteer can continue the language lessons in their own time and at their own cost. Please note that for German(ic) languages these language lessons might be too easy.
  • For your transport you will receive a bike to move through the city (also in winter).
  • The accommodation will be in one of AAP’s guest houses, where also other volunteers and interns live. These houses operate on a dormitory basis. You will have your own bedroom and need to share the living room, kitchen, bathroom and garden with other ESC-volunteers. It’s important that you are fully aware of this fact.
  • It is very wise to save some money before coming to the Netherlands. The pocket and food money is decent for an ESC-volunteer but won’t leave you a lot of space to explore the country. If you really want to enjoy your ESC-experience, to explore the country and to meet up with other ESC-volunteers in other cities we highly recommend having some other resources other than the basic ESC allowance. Another important fact is that your CIGNA insurance does not pay in advance. In practice, this means that you have to pay in advance for your health care and have to wait a couple of weeks before CIGNA reimburses the money to your bank account.
  • Please be aware that the automatic CIGNA insurance for each ESC volunteer does not cover risks associated with travelling (such as loss of luggage), therefore, you are advised to read the insurance conditions carefully and arrange an additional insurance if you feel it is necessary. Your SO can provide you with detailed information on the CIGNA insurance.

How to apply & further selection procedure

Please send us your resume and motivation letter to Muriel.van.der.heijden@aap.nl (do not forget to mention the code EVSALM-2019-R1in the subject of your email).

Make sure your application is received. Do not forget to add a photo to your resume and also mention what you hope to learn by participating in this project. Make sure that you mention also your Sending Organization (SO), if you have one already (incl. contact details), as well as your telephone number and skype address where we can reach you in case we want to interview you.

From the applications received we will make a selection of 8 candidates who will be contacted for a telephone or skype interview. The selection will be conducted by a member of the AAP’s Animal Care staff.