Sanctuary De Zonnegloed

A permanent shelter for exotic animals who can't go back to nature


In our sanctuary live around 400 animals.

  • 20 species of predators
  • 10 species of primates
  • 30 species of other kinds of mammals
  • 30 species of reptiles
  • 30 species of birds, birds of prey and owls



Animal welfare is still a difficult subject. Many exotic and native animals don't lead a dignified life and often human dealings stand at the source - illegal trade, private ownership, exploitation by entertainment or research. A lot of these animals used to live in dire situations and at vzw De Zonnegloed we improve the welfare of these animals. We give them a place to catch their breath. Often these animals were terrible mistreated or neglected. At De Zonnegloed they receive the professional care they need.

Animal shelter – sanctuary De Zonnegloed takes care of the animals that cannot return to nature. Almost all animals present at De Zonnegloed came from other animal shelters or wild life rescue centres. Those animals were severely neglected and retrieved from shady animal parks, circuses, traders or individuals. The animals need professional care and love: appropriate nutrition, a proper enclosure, medical care and attention. Vzw De Zonnegloed offers these animals a new life.


Rehabilitation and care

The animals at our foundation De Zonnegloed often come in in a neglected state; deprived of a social group and untended. At De Zonnegloed they receive the professional care they need to become and act like a healthy animal again. This care can be divided in three categories: veterinary care, nutrition and behaviour.


→ Personal approach

Vzw De Zonnegloed has a team of professional veterinarians and animal caretakers whose aspiration it is to get the animals healthy again, physical and emotional, and to keep them healthy. When they arrive, the animals are kept in quarantine and receive a complete medical examination. For every animal or group of animals a personal treatment plan is drawn up, with a focus on resocialisation, possible needed medication and nutrition. Often an animal received wrong food for years, like candy, coffee or cola, and need an adapted diet. When the animals can leave the quarantine, they are placed in an appropriate enclosure. The animals are still monitored closely and treated. All animals at De Zonnegloed receive yearly a full medical check-up, with vaccinations if necessary. If something is wrong, treatment will start immediately.

→ Mimic

Plenty of rest and veterinary care are essential for all animals who are taken in by De Zonnegloed. But that’s not all of it, often the animals need to (un)learn a lot. Most animals kept here at De Zonnegloed are social animals, but because of their past they were never able to learn how to act around conspecifics. For example, they don’t know how to communicate with them or which social rules are in place. We are convinced animals will be happier witch conspecifics, so we aim to keep every animal as part of a group.

When an animal leaves its quarantine, it has time to get used to the new enclosure, the new caretaker and the outdoor area. Next, the animal is placed in an enclosure next to its conspecifics. This way the animals can see, hear and smell each other. Only when they react positive, the caretakers will try to place the animal with the others. Often it starts with one conspecific and slowly the other group members are introduced. With every step the caretakers will observe and record the behaviour of the animals. Some of the animals have never seen a conspecific before and need to learn how to behave. These behaviours are learned by seeing and mimicking the other members of the group. This takes time and often by fighting that an animal learns its place within the group and starts to behave like a e.g. ‘monkey’.

→ Unlearn

When we receive monkeys, a lot of the time they need to unlearn certain habits. Especially animals kept as pets are used to attention from humans and don’t react to its conspecifics. Obviously they’ll not make any friends this way. By not giving them any special attention, they stop trying and start to look for contact with their conspecifics.

Animals kept in small cages or by themselves, often show stereotype behaviours, like pacing or self-harming. By distracting them by giving them food puzzles, toys and placing them with conspecifics they unlearn those stereotype behaviours. Every animal is different and will need a different amount of time before it can be placed within the group. For example: an animal taken to soon from its mother will lack social skills and needs more time to learn all social rules. But with enough patience and supervision it is possible!