Elephant Parade, a social enterprise

Elephant Parade

Elephant Parade
Painted elephant at Elephant Parade. Picture by Frans Betgem

Start of Elephant Parade

Elephant Parade was created by father and son Marc and Mike Spits from the Netherlands in 2006. A year later, the first exhibition was held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Marc was inspired to create the Elephant Parade after meeting Soraida Salwala whilst on holiday in Thailand. Soraida is the founder and Secretary General of FAE (Friends of the Asian Elephant) and founder of the FAE Elephant Hospital, the first elephant hospital in the world in Lampang, near Chiang Mai. Here, Marc met a baby elephant named Mosha, who had lost her leg after stepping on a landmine. Mosha inspired Marc to create Elephant Parade.

Elephant Parade Green Trails
Mosha, the inspiration. Picture by Frans Betgem.

The mission

It is Elephant Parade’s mission to be the world’s largest support organization for the Asian elephant which is threatened with extinction. Over the last 100 years, the number of Asian elephants has decreased with 90%. Today, there are ca. 35,000 Asian elephants left throughout Asia. Almost 150,000 Asian elephants died in the last 25 years. In Thailand there are just 4,000 elephants left, of which only 1,500 live in the wild. If we don’t take action now, the Asian elephant will become extinct in a couple of decades. Joining hands with The Asian Elephant Foundation guarantees that monies generated from Elephant Parade and destined for the Asian elephant are used adequately.The open air art exhibitions create worldwide attention, public awareness and support for the cause of elephant conservation: the elephant statues never go unnoticed by the wider public and mass media.

The concept

Elephant Parade’s concept is a unique combination of art, business and charity. Art drives the value of the Elephant Parade: the life size elephant statues are exhibited in well-known cities and auctioned off at prestigious gala events. Smaller size hand painted limited edition replicas are sold in ‘Elephant Parade Gallery Stores’ and the Webshop. The more superior the quality of the Art, the more successful the Business, the higher the amounts raised for Charity.
Elephant Parade is not a charity but a social enterprise. Part of all proceeds from the auctions and retail benefits various projects and organizations, dedicated to the conservation of the Asian elephant. To date, this unique concept made it possible to contribute over 4 million Euros to this goal, and is put to good use in projects varying from elephant hospitals and corridors to lobbying governments and research. Many Asian elephants have been saved and cured, but there are still thousands more that need our support. Elephant Parade is not a charity, but it is probably the most charitable enterprise in the world. Part of all proceeds from Elephant Parade auctions and merchandise benefits various projects and organizations, dedicated to the conservation of the Asian elephant. To date, this unique concept made it possible to contribute over 4 million Euros to this goal, and is put to good use in projects varying from elephant hospitals and corridors to lobbying governments and research. Our Asian Elephant tour features a visit to Elephant Parade.

Elephant Parade.
Production line, Chiang Mai. Picture by Frans Betgem.