The story of the Parque das Aves begins in South-West Africa, in a coastal town in Namibia, where the Croukamp family were given an African-grey parrot chick, which soon sparked a love of birds in Dennis Croukamp.
Years later, the family moved and a friend suggested to Dennis that they should move to Foz do Iguaçu in order to build a crocodile park. Dennis replied: "I like birds. We will create a Bird Park."
Along with his friends, Dennis traveled to Brazil and, after receiving all the necessary licenses, acquired 16.5 hectares of subtropical forest between the Iguassu River and the highway that leads to Iguassu falls, next to what is now the Iguassu National Park. His wife Anna, a veterinary physician, acquired a copy of the book "Portuguese in three months" and studied our language.
The first challenge was to remove from the land the tons of debris gathered over the years. All invasive vegetation was removed and, in its place, were planted hundreds of native trees. The administration building, shop and cafeteria were built by a contractor.
Anna entered the dense forest in search of the ideal places for the enclosures and created trails through the forest to connect them. Thanks to the effort of several people who joined the cause, the Park began to take shape. On November 1st, 1993, Dennis and Anna began the construction of what would become the Parque das Aves.
The first birds came from donations or loans from Brazilian zoos; confiscated animals were sent by IBAMA (the Brazilian environment agency). Subtropical species from all continents were imported. The butterfly house was born after the arrival of another Croukamp family friend to Foz do Iguaçu.
The Parque das Aves was inaugurated on October 7th, 1994, 11 months after Dennis and Anna landed in Brazil. Ever since, the Park continues to grow thanks to a Brazilian team that is dedicated to carrying on with the dreams of Dennis.
Nowadays the Parque das Aves is the largest bird park in Latin America.
"But there is so much left to be done!", sighs Anna.