How to fund a bird park – Ask a 13 year old

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… Continue reading

Parque Das Aves, Part II – Overcoming Adversity

We left the story just after learning how much entrepreneur and founder Dennis Croukamp had risked in setting up a bird park in Latin America, and then sadly, he died.  You can see Part I of this story here.

From Carmel Croukamp:

Overcoming adversity

Anna Croupkamp, who had been a housewife for sixteen years and had never run a business, moved to Brazil. She now says that if she had known about all the obstacles she would face, she would have been too terrified to do it.

The odds have always been stacked heavily against the bird park – everyone from shady businessmen to government authorities have tried to close the bird park down at some point. Nature conservation in Brazil is not easy.

Now, it’s the biggest bird park in Latin America, with over 500 000 visitors a year.

With our profits we’re able to support a number of social and conservation projects in various parts of Brazil (supporting education, scientific research, reintroduction programs, organic agriculture and so on).

Social Entrepreneurship

As for social entrepreneurship, however, the Bird Park project has been about building a business that by nature produces socially positive results.

There are the obvious benefits of giving Brazilians a positive experience of the natural environment by spending rare time in the Atlantic Rainforest and, in our walk-through, flee-fry aviaries that allow people closer contact with wild animals than you’ll find anywhere.

We also educate 35 000 schoolchildren a year in a rapidly expanding environmental education program vital to an area and a culture where deforestation, trafficking and poaching are rampant.

In addition, 47% of the birds in the park are animals rescued from traffickers and maltreatment. 43% have been bred here at the park, and we develop programs to reintroduce birds into the wild (many of these endangered species).

Many of our staff, by the way, are former poachers and loggers, some of whom have now become expert bird handlers. Our staff love what they do with a passion.

Flying High

As Anna goes into retirement, the running of the park is passing over to her daughter, Carmel and son-in-law. There’s still a long road ahead and the sky’s the limit.

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