I am totally blissed out. As I stand with my head back like a kid, mouth gapping open, totally in awe as a streak of brilliant red then one of cerulean flashes above my head. I don’t know where to look next, scared of missing a moment of this avian bliss. I thought the toucan aviary was the best but now in the middle of the macaw aviary with literally dozens of macaws and other colourful birds flying free around me I am reassessing that.
We are in South America, just outside the Brazilian entrance to Iguassu falls, and have stumbled across the holy grail for bird lovers. Parque das Aves is one of the best bird parks, if not the best I have ever visited, and I’ve visited a few. A chance remark has led us here, “if you like birds, there’s a rather nice bird park, set up by a vet..” . Now having worked with vets my ears pricked up, I know first hand how fussy they are about animals in captivity. The enclosures here are large and they are carefully positioned around the rainforest like grounds. It is very well done. There are over 1,000 birds from about 150 different species here at Parque das Aves.
The Parque das Aves story is a touching one. A couple of bird lovers Dennis and Anna Croukamp (Anna being the Vet) moved from Namibia, Africa in the early 1990s and bought 16.5 hectares of sub tropical rainforest. They cleared the land of debris and invasive vegetation and replanted it with 100s of native trees. Anna sought out the ideal locations for the enclosures and created the trails through the forest to connect them. Their first residents came either as donations or on loan from other zoos. Birds confiscated by the Brazilian environmental agency (IBAMA) were sent to them and others were imported from overseas. 50% of the birds here today still come from IBAMA.
Parques das Aves opened on 6th October 1994, 11 months after Anna and Dennis arrived in Brazil. Dennis sadly passed away in July 1996, but his dream continues to thrive thanks to the dedicated team in charge of his vision.
What I find most touching as a bird lover are the number of injured birds that Parque das Aves takes in. Normal zoos wouldn’t accept them but the Parque gives them a home for life. There is a team of vets, biologists and zookeepers dedicated to their daily care.
Often in zoos and bird parks I feel sad for the animals in cages, but not at Parque das Aves. They have a beautiful sanctuary to call home. I think Dennis Croukamp would be very proud if he could see how his dream has developed.
Tips for visiting Parque das Aves:
Parques das Aves is very easy to find right opposite the Brazilian entrance to Iguassu Falls just outside the town of Foz do Iguassu. The bus to the falls stops here. See the tips on my Iguassu Falls story for how we got here, along with Visa and vaccination requirements.
Whilst the gift shop and restaurant at Parque das Aves accept credit cards, the entrance fee kiosk only takes Brazilian reals and American dollars.