How & Why Did The PHP Mascot Come To Birth? The elePHPant Secret Story!

A Small Intro :: PHP & The PHP Community..

If you know how to echoHello, PHP’s simplicity is actually awesome; I do not need magical programming skills to use it like this“,

– you are a PHP beginner..

If you’ve pushed your first commits on github, you are possibly an intermediate PHPer..

If you’ve launched a useful, sustainable, community-adopted open-source PHP project (a current concrete example is Taylor Otwell’s Laravel Community) smelling good standards, you probably nailed it

– you are a pro PHPer with a decent level of PHP Cred.

If you have heard about The PHP Community at least once, you are somehow close to being part of The PHP Community.

If you have heard about Cal Evans at least once, you are probably a fan of The PHP Community.

If you have attended the monthly NomadPHP online session at least once, you are already part of The PHP Community.

But you cannot be a true fan of The PHP Community and a programmer with PHP in your heart, if you haven’t heard of the magical, mystical and elegant PHP mascot that is coined as and known famously and passionately as ele.. PHP..



wait for it!



The elePHPant!

(Did you know: Michelangelo van Dam is so addicted to The PHP Community that he tamed 50 elePHPants at once – no wonder he’s tagged as a ferocious community animal)

If you are part of The Community, you probably already knew how it was created since the creator of the elePHPant answered it in his movie.

From PHP to elePHPant - The Elroubio Movie
From PHP to elePHPant – The Elroubio Movie

But! Do you actually know why it was created and where the idea of creating it came from? And do you actually know Elroubio himself?

Hold your breath, I bring you those eager answers from the mouth of Vincent Pontier himself. Welcome to the magical history of The elePHPant aka The Magical Elegant ‘PHP-Master’ that is beautifying the PHP-life of so many of us!

I actually conveyed the interview in French and Vincent also replied in French (since he is from France). So I’m going to translate his french answers into English. If you also know french and see that you can improve on the translation, feel free to let me know! (#thankful)

In any case the original french version of it, is also present in here.

en_EN :: Vincent Pontier – The Interview [Translated To English]

Vincent Pontier aka Elroubio - Creator Of elePHPant
Vincent Pontier aka Elroubio – Creator Of elePHPant

>> Hi Vincent, could you please introduce yourself to the 7PHP readers?

Vincent PONTIER aka Elroubio, 41 years old, married with a wonderful wife, three beautiful children, Head of Human Resources of the Communication Group INSIGN and spiritual father (PHPather) of thousand of elePHPants around the world … A fairy tale (PHPer) right ?

>> You are the original designer of the elePHPant logo. Everyone ask how you created it, but you answered it already in your movie.

>> So I’m going to ask you: ‘why did you start to work on this concept and where has the idea of creating a PHP mascot came from’?

In 1998, CGI scripts were one of the only ways to make a ‘first generation’ website a little more interactive with visitors (Forum , guestbook, … ). One evening in November, a developer friend, François BUFFIÈRE, talk to me about this new language called ” PHP “. A language that would, according to him, revolutionize the interaction with visitors in the years to come. In 1998 few French web site talked about PHP. Only Jean-Pierre DEZELUS, site owner of dezelus’page – a personal website that would become the famous, spoke of this programming language. While my friend François who came to code at my home to show me what they could do with this “PHP”, in a deep thought, I was having fun drawing the letters “PHP” in capital letters on a white sheet of paper.

By chance – chance sometimes do make good things happen – I suddenly noticed that the letters were forming the shape of an elephant if viewed in a ‘sideways angle’. Look at it well, you’ll see! I sent my first drawing to Jean-pierre Dezelus who I did not know at that time. He was a collector of elephant, this is amazing right? So he asked me to create an elephant in the same style as the true PHP logo.

A blue oval with a black outline gradient. I did what I had to do and we put this “elephant logo” for download on his website. While putting it online, I named the image file as elePHPant to play with the words a little bit (words’ pun).

The rest of the story you know… Over time, the PHP community has grown, PHP has become the most used language in the world on the internet and developers have adopted the elePHPant as a mascot just like the Linux penguin! A plush animal was born 10 years later. It is now known around the world … A beautiful story of chance 😉

The Original elePHPant Logo
The Original elePHPant Logo

>> Did you also come up with the word elePHPant? Could you please tell us a bit how it all begun?

Yes I created this strange word (mid PHP, mid elephant) in 1998 along with the first drawing of the elePHPant! There was even a decline of the concept with the word “PHPin’up” in 2001 after the burst of the Internet bubble, small IT pinup which you might be able to find in the archives of google image!

>> As the “PHPather spiritual” (as Christophe Villeneuve calls you) of this amazing PHP plush toy, could you please tell the PHP World how YOU define an elePHPant? [a magical definition?]

Magic? Ooooh noooo 😉
However some developers say they make no coding error when they have a Plush elePHPant put above their screen… We do not have any scientific evidence of this strange phenomenon (PHPenomenon)!

>> According to you, what was the impact of the elePHPant on The PHP Community

Some fun?

>> A few words about PHP and/or The PHP Community?

The PHP community is one of the best IT Community in the world. Since the 90s this wonderful community has never denied its values ​​of solidarity, generosity and sharing with an open mind! I am proud to have contributed to such a great community of engineers while being only a graphic designer.

>> If someone wants to buy an elePHPant online, is there any place for it?

We have an e-commerce project site for elePHPant goodies, with some friends who were present since the start of the elePHPant story – the PHPioniers in France (Damien SEGUY, Cyril STONE GEYER, Christophe Villeuneuve). For now, you can order directly from Christopher VILLENEUVE. Otherwise, shoot me an email:

>> Where does the name Elroubio come from and what does it mean?

In fact, this is the nickname given to me by my father when I was a kid. “El Rubio” means “The Blond” in Spanish. Since I have my hairs rather “reddish”, I found this nickname for the Web in 1995: “Elroubio”. That’s it, you know everything 🙂

>> Any thing you want to add?

Yes. Thank you for this good moment of sharing the answers to your questions. It is always a pleasure (PHPleasure) to remember those fantastic years that have forged the web of today.

fr_FR :: Vincent Pontier – The Interview [Original Replies In French]

>> Salut Vincent, peux-tu s’il te plaît te présenter aux lecteurs de 7PHP?

Vincent PONTIER aka Elroubio, 41 ans, marié avec une femme formidable, 3 beaux enfants, responsable des ressources humaines du Groupe de communication INSIGN et père (PHPère) spirituel de milliers d’elePHPants dans le monde… Un conte de fée (PHPée) non ?

>> Tu es le créateur original du logo elePHPant. Tout le monde se demandait comment il a été créé, mais tu as déjà répondu dans ton film.

>> Je vais donc te demander pourquoi tu as commencé à travailler sur ce concept et où l’idée de créer une mascotte de PHP a surgit?

En 1998, les scripts CGI étaient un des seuls moyens de rendre un site internet de première génération un peu plus interactif avec ses visiteurs (Forum, livre d’or,…). Un soir de novembre, un ami développeur, François BUFFIÈRE, me parle de ce nouveau langage nommé « php ». Langage qui allait, selon lui, révolutionner l’interaction avec les visiteurs dans les années à venir. En 1998, peu de sites web français parlaient de php. Seul Jean-Pierre DEZELUS, propriétaire du site dezelus’page, site perso qui allait devenir le fameux, parlait de ce langage de programmation. Alors que mon ami François était venu programmer à la maison pour me montrer ce que l’on pouvait faire avec ce « php », en pleine réflexion, je m’amusais à dessiner les lettres «PHP » en majuscule sur une feuille blanche.

Par hasard – le hasard fait parfois bien les choses – je me suis aperçu que les lettres formaient un elephant de profil…Regardez bien vous verrez ! J’ai envoyé mon premier dessin à Jean-pierre DEZELUS que je ne connaissais pas à ce moment là. Il était collectionneur d’éléphant…incroyable non ? Il m’a donc demandé de créer un éléphant à la manière du vrai logo php.

Un ovale bleu dégradé avec un contour noir. Je me suis exécuté et nous avons mis ce « logo elephant» en téléchargement sur son site. Au moment de le mettre en ligne j’ai nomme le fichier elePHPant pour faire un jeu de mot. La suite de l’histoire vous la connaissez…

Au fil du temps, la communauté PHP s’est agrandie, PHP est devenu le langage le plus utilisé dans le monde sur internet et les développeurs ont adopté l’elephpant comme mascotte à l’instar du pingouin de Linux ! Une peluche est née 10 ans plus tard. Elle est aujourd’hui connue dans le monde entier…Une belle histoire de hasard 😉

>> As-tu également inventé le mot elePHPant? Peux-tu s’il te plaît nous en dire un peu comment tout a commencé?

Oui j’ai créé ce mot étrange (mi PHP mi ELEPHANT) en 1998 en même temps que le premier dessin de l’elePHPant ! Il y a même eu une déclinaison du concept avec le mot « PHPin’up » en 2001 après l’explosion de la bulle internet, petites pinup informatiques, que vous pouvez peut-être retrouver dans les archives de google image !

>> Comme le « PHPather spirituel » (comme Christophe Villeneuve te nomme) de cette magnifique peluche, dis au monde PHP comment définisses-tu un elePHPant? [Une définition magique??]

Magique ? Hoooo noooon 😉
En revanche certains développeurs affirment qu’ils ne font aucune erreur de code quand ils ont une peluche de l’elePHPant posée sur leur écran…Nous n’avons pas encore de preuve scientifique de ce phénomène (PHPénomène) étrange !

>> Selon toi, quel a été l’impact de l’elePHPant sur La Communauté PHP ?

Some fun ?

>> Quelques mots sur PHP et / ou de la communauté PHP?

La communauté PHP est l’une des plus belles communauté informatique au monde. Depuis les années 90 cette merveilleuse communauté n’a jamais démentie ses valeurs de partage de solidarité d’ouverture d’esprit ! Je suis fier d’avoir pu contribuer à une si belle communauté d’ingénieurs en étant seulmement graphiste à la base…

>> Si quelqu’un veut acheter un elePHPant en ligne?

Nous avons un projet de site e-commerce dédié aux goodies elePHPant avec quelques amis de la première heure… les PHPioniers en France (Damien SEGUY, Cyril PIERRE DE GEYER, Christophe VILLEUNEUVE). Pour le moment, vous pouvez commander directement auprès de Christophe VILLENEUVE. Sinon, faites-moi un email :

>> D’où provient le nom Elroubio, elle signifie quoi?

En fait, c’est le surnom que me donnait mon père quand j’étais petit. “El Rubio” veut dire le “Le Blond” en espagnol. Comme j’ai les cheveux plutôt “roux”, j’ai trouvé ce pseudo pour le Web en 1995 : “Elroubio”. Voilà tu sais tout 🙂

>> Si tu souhaites d’ajouter quelque chose pour terminer..?

Oui. Merci à toi pour ce bon moment partagé à répondre à tes questions. C’est toujours un plaisir (PHPlaisir) de me souvenir de ces années fantastiques qui ont forgé le web d’aujourd’hui.

Thankful To Elroubio

I’m thankful to Vincent for having responded to this interview and also for having gifted 7PHP a custom ‘ele-7PHP-ant logo’ which I already announced here: 7PHP Has Been Blessed Today By The ‘PHPather Spirituel’ aka Elroubio

7PHP Logo v2 - Designed by Vincent Pontier
7PHP Logo v2 – Designed by Vincent Pontier

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