Advertising »
Advertising »

AS Monaco: What do you know about Bouba?

Bouba © AS Monaco

The AS Monaco mascot since the early 1980s, Bouba was out of sight for a long time, returning in 2016. While there is still some mystery around him, Bouba has lots of interesting anecdotes to tell.


How did this funny elephant become the AS Monaco muse? “Well,” Laurent Peyronel, director of the Monaco animal garden sighs, “I have been asking myself the same question for over forty years!”

Jean Petit, Jean-Luc Ettori, the club, the supporters, even the Princely family… Laurent Peyronel asked around, but never really got any answers. So why an elephant, called Bouba, like the little cartoon bear?

Buon-Nam, a gift from the Emperor of Vietnam to Prince Rainier III

“In 1954, Prince Rainier III received an elephant as a gift from the Emperor of Vietnam, Bao-Daï,” says the director of the Monaco animal garden. “She was a young elephant calf named Buon-Nam. The keepers affectionately called her Bouna.”

© All rights reserved

An elephant. Bouna. We are getting there. “In December 1954, she came to the animal garden. She was one of the very first residents.” Bouna lived in the park until she left for a zoo in northern Italy in 1982. It is said that she would trumpet when (many) goals were scored by AS Monaco at the old Louis II stadium.

Urban legend? “If you look at it pragmatically, yes,” smiles Laurent Peyronel. “She arrived in the park when she was little and was put in the upper section. She wouldn’t have been able to see the pitch from there.”

Did Bouna trumpet to celebrate AS Monaco’s goals?

But as she grew, Bouna was moved to another part of the park. “There, she was even less likely to see the stadium…” But a third location might have given rise to the legend. “As an adult, she was at the back of the park. And from there she could maybe have seen the pitch. But I find that hard to believe.”

© All rights reserved

Perhaps she trumpeted by coincidence once when AS Monaco scored a goal. This is the “most credible” hypothesis according to Laurent Peyronel, who asked several former players if they had ever heard the animal. Here again, information is thin on the ground.

Recently, Richard Rizza, the son of Jean-Mary Rizza, the AS Monaco supporters’ club president at the time, gave us some useful information.

His dad and faithful fellow supporters had the idea of making her a mascot, because they could hear her trumpet when certain goals were scored. “Bouna would only trumpet because she heard the noise when the supporters were celebrating at the old Louis-II stadium.”

Richard Seren, the man who invented Bouba

Bouba was officially adopted as the club’s official mascot in 1982. Richard Seren, who originally created him, remembers it like it was yesterday.

When AS Monaco wanted to create a mascot, like other clubs had, the president, Jean-Louis Campora, decided to run a national competition, in Monaco and France,” he says. An ASM supporter since he was 10 years old, he is still a season ticket holder today. “There were around a hundred drawings. There were crocodiles and all sorts.”

And among the drawings was one by Richard Seren, a tribute to the elephant he admired when he went to the matches at the Louis-II stadium. “I would often go to the old Louis-II stadium with some mates, and I promise you, we could hear the elephant trumpet during the game.

So it was the first idea that came into my head. I thought it would be great to tell a proper story through the mascot, in a comic format. Plus, elephants represent strength. They are legendary animals.”

A few months after all the drawings were sent in, the jury made its choice. And it was Bouba, the elephant dreamt up by Richard Seren, that was chosen as the official AS Monaco mascot.

“It was used a lot at first, then it disappeared for a while. Then a few years later I saw the club had brought it back. It’s certainly changed since my first drawing. Bouba is more grey in colour, and not so chubby,” he smiles. “They remastered him to bring him up to date.”

1982 mascot created by Richard Seren (the original)
1982 mascot created by Richard Seren (the original)
Match programme, 27 August 1983
The comic that explains Bouba’s arrival (Richard Seren)

What is Bouba’s role?

To entertain the children. This is Bouba’s main mission. The AS Monaco mascot loves selfies at the Louis II stadium, especially with the Munegu Family,  The most famous of Monaco’s mascots also attends the club’s charity events and accompanies AS Monacoeur.

© AS Monaco

Recently, Bouba was on hand at the start of the AS Monaco Kids Tour, after some impressive moves on skis last winter at the Sunset Park – Snowpark in Chamrousse, for the start of the Winter Olympics. Quite the busy schedule for this elephant named Bouba, as a tribute to his ancestor… Bouna.