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Man Turns His Love Of Animals Into A Foundation

February 18, 2010 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Things to Do  | 10 Comments


Many kids grow up wishing they could have a tiger or monkey as a pet, but have to settle for a dog or a cat.

In the case of Mario Tabraue, his mother wouldn’t even let him have a dog or a cat as a child.

“My mother wouldn’t even let me have a fish,” he said. “She thought it was weird. She thought there was something wrong with me.”

So when he finally left home as a young adult, the first thing he did was buy a couple of Great Danes.

And today, he owns several types of tigers and monkeys and wolves, not to mention four camels and a zebra.

Tabraue and his wife Maria also operate the Zoological Wildlife Foundation, which is described as “an organization dedicated to educating the public about rare and endangered animal species in captivity and in the wild.”

“I seem to relate better to animals because you always know where you stand with them unlike with people,” he said.

The couple operate the foundation out of their home, which sits on a five-acre lot in Redland, an agricultural community in southwest Miami-Dade. 

For a fee, members of the public can make an appointment for a guided tour of their property and get to pose with the animals for photos and in some cases, even hold the animals.

“You go to the Metro Zoo and walk around in circles and you’re not going to touch anything,” he said. “Here, you’re going to have an experience of a lifetime.”

And he is right.



Above: A pair of ligers, which are a mix between a lion and a tiger.

The zoo will not allow you into a cage with a pair of baby ligers, which is a cross-breed between a lion and a tiger.

But the ligers are growing quick, so it won’t be long until they can only be viewed from outside the cages.

But even then, you can hold your hand up against the fence and allow the tigers and ligers to rub their body against it, which they like to do.


Above: The Gibbon monkeys always reach for your camera. But they are mellow enough to hold.

And you will be able to hold several types of monkeys, including Capuchin, Gibbon Macaque monkeys.

And you will be able to pet the wolves.

The Tabraues are required to have several state and federal licenses to own the animals and operate under strict guidelines.

“My cages are six times the size the standard required by the federal government,” he said.

Most of the animals are born in captivity and might not even survive in the wild, he said.

Tabraue charges minimum $100 for a group of three or less adults. Groups of four adults or more cost $30 a person. Larger groups can expect reduced rates per person, he said.

He never charges for children. He also works with a couple of schools in providing regular tours and he has also given discounted tours to children from under-privileged schools.

And he hopes to work with more schools and other organizations in the future.

“For the kids, it’s extra special because they are receiving an education that they don’t get in class,” he said.

For more information, check out Zoological Wildlife Foundation or call (786) 423-8564







Related Categories: Miami: Things to Do,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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10 Comments on

"Man Turns His Love Of Animals Into A Foundation"

rk says:

Wonder if they draw enough visitors to support such a relatively small yet expensive operation.

Great photos btw, should be a crime.

Posted on 02/19/2010 at 12:37 AM

Chris says:

Wow, great pics!

Posted on 02/19/2010 at 4:47 AM

Rebecca says:

Phenomenal pictures Carlos! I had no idea this existed! Thank you!

Posted on 02/19/2010 at 8:31 AM

Sungal says:


What’s the address of this place? How far away is it from South Beach?

I see you got to pet the kitty..pretty cool.

Posted on 02/19/2010 at 12:02 PM

Shana says:

This is a beautiful experience for everyone. The animals love the attention & are interacting with all the different animals (as well as people) on the property. I’ve never seen so many animals getting along so beautifully with each other. They are happy….unlike a lot of other places I’ve been to. You will definitely be amazed @ all the interaction & can sit back & witness it for yourself. Mario & Maria put all there efforts into building new play stations & with the help of donations, will continue to make this place “THE ONLY PLACE” where wildlife & people can get to know each other without fear.

Posted on 02/20/2010 at 4:55 AM

Doug says:

Beautiful shots! I’ll have to check this place out on my next visit!

Posted on 02/20/2010 at 11:50 AM

Jorge says:

Location is about 45 minutes from South Beach. Basically eight miles south of Kendall off Krome Ave. 16225 SW 172 Ave. Miami, Fl. 33187. This is a small paradise! The animals are treated with utmost love and respect. A must visit!

Posted on 02/20/2010 at 1:35 PM

Jake says:

Awesome fuckin pictures dude. Hell yeah

Posted on 02/22/2010 at 12:11 AM

dee says:

Google this dude to see what his past is.  Really bad, not good for the animals.

Posted on 03/12/2011 at 9:54 PM

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