My connection with Parque Das Aves goes all the way back to my school days. I didn’t know it then, but at 13 years old, I had an influence on the fortunes of what is now the largest bird park in Latin America.
In 1995, two years into following his dream to set up a bird park in Brazil, Dennis Croukamp was looking for more investment.
At the time, Dennis and his wife, Anna lived on the Isle of Man. As you might know already, or perhaps heard me mention in my Iguassu video, I’m also from the Isle of Man – that lovely little island in the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland.
To raise money, Dennis was selling his Mercedes-Benz. And who was interested in it, apart from a 13 year Richard? My father was, and he invited me along for the test drive…
My dad liked it, and I gave him the nod of approval. The deal was done. Of course I’ve always been a social impact investor at heart! My dad had the Mercedes and Dennis had the money he needed to build an essential part of the park, and open it to visitors.
It now gives more than half a million visitors a year a taste of nature and conservation, and educates more than 35,000 school children a year (more on this coming in my next post). In this video, Dennis and Anna’s daughter, and Park Director, Carmel Croukamp, introduces us to the park, and invites us to take something away with us (although preferably not a bird…).
18 years on, and Anna Croukamp still shows a picture of the Mercedes and mentions the story of the sale in her presentations on entrepreneurship and what it took to get the park started. Sadly, Dennis passed away not long after the park opened in 1996, and Anna has been the managing director ever since.
It’s an incredible story how it got started. Read more here:
Part two: Overcoming Adversity – Parque Das Aves