Man Turns His Love Of Animals Into A Foundation
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
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