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“Fantastic Experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Zoological Wildlife Foundation

Zoological Wildlife Foundation
16225 Sw 172nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33187
+1 305-969-3696
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Ranked #1 of 277 things to do in Miami
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Attraction details
Owner description: ZWF Miami is the only zoo in South Florida with as many animal encounters. We carry more than 20 of exotic species at our facility with many available for interactive activities involving our guests. The five acre zoo houses everything from domestic animals and primates to large predatory birds and mammals. Some of our popular selection of exotic zoo animals are Gibbon Apes, Sloths, Lemurs, owls, snakes, Anteater, Lions, Snow Leopards, and mischievous Capuchin monkeys - like those used in many movies. The Zoological Wildlife Foundation offers intimate tours and private encounters by appointment. Contact us to schedule a special tour with our exotic animals! It's an experience you will never forget. Tours must be prepaid and booked in advance in order to guarantee your desired date and time. DIRECTIONS: Please use these directions. The GPS sends travelers via a dirt road. COMING FROM THE NORTH: Take Turnpike Heading South Exit: Eureka Drive - 184 street Make a right turn heading west until Krome Avenue (177 ave) Make a right heading North to 160 street. Make a right heading East for half mile to 172 ave. Make a right. We are on the left side about a half block down.
Aberdeen, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Fantastic Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2013

I planned the visit as a surprise birthday gift for my wife ~ managed to keep it a secret from my Jenny until we reached the gates of your property ~ she did not have a clue what was going on.

We had an absolutely awesome afternoon ;) Athena, the 4 month old Tiger cub was adorable and beautiful :) as were all the animals & birds we met :)
So many wonderful experiences with them that we will never forget :) we have some really good photos.

Andrea & Jordan, our guides, looked after us so well and I would like to say thanks to them as they made us feel so welcome. Both are so knowledgeable and absolutely love their jobs and the animals & birds they look after :) it was a pleasure to meet them.

An experience we will never forget ~ thank you Maria :)

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria T, Owner at Zoological Wildlife Foundation, responded to this review, April 29, 2013
Thank you for visiting us! I will most definitely pass along the message to the tour guides that assisted you with your tour. We are more than happy to know that you both left very pleased with your tour, and enjoyed your time spent with our animals. We hope you may visit us again in the future, and we thank you for taking the time to review us.
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Flint, Texas
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“The best hands on animal encounter---ever!!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2013

Having time to kill before heading to the Keys on vacation, my friend and I decided to go for a visit! Absolutely amazing!!! We got to meet AND hold Taj and Mahal, go inside the goat and donkey pen and pet, we went inside Sam the toucans cage and fed it fruit and had the anteater come out and play! So much fun! Carolina was our guide and was very knowledgeable with tons of facts and could answer all of our questions. You could tell she really loved her job! This is definately a MUST! Thanks, Carolina, for a wonderful afternoon!
Andi White
Tyler, TX

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boise, Idaho
Top Contributor
371 reviews 371 reviews
31 attraction reviews
Reviews in 171 cities Reviews in 171 cities
404 helpful votes 404 helpful votes
“Not for animal lovers; private exotic animal collection”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2013

The name of this place is misleading; in reality it is the private residence of an animal collector – it is not a sanctuary or zoo, it is a for-profit facility and the funds you pay for admission are fees to interact with young exotic animals and see older exotic animals in cages in the yard. However, once the animals are older and/or over 40 lbs, they are not eligible for interactions anymore. The cages to contain the animals are very small – there are a number of big cats who do not have sufficient space, as well as gibbons that do not have sufficient space. There was more than one big cat per cage. The animals do not appear to have any enrichment or play areas once they are no longer having “guest interactions.” The animals are rented out for photo shoots, performances and commercial purposes. There is also breeding of exotic animals going on at this facility. The only professional thing about this place is the name; the staff were very young and not able to provide much information about the animals – certainly there is no education taking place, it is more about charging for photo opportunities and using the animals to make a profit.

Of course it is great to get to interact with exotic animals if you love animals, but it is clear that the focus of this place is not on the animal’s welfare. For example, health precautions were not taken so when you interact with one species and move to another, no hand washing or hand sanitizing is requested or required, which is a very basic precaution. Also, more than one species can be in the room at the same time – and the guest is put in the position of protecting the animals because the very young and inexperienced staff did nothing other than warn of the danger. For example, we were given a chance to play with a wolf cub if we sat on a couch and kept the active cub on the couch – but a dog was in the room and we were warned she was aggressive and to keep them apart – not an appropriate position for a guest to be in. Another time we were interacting with baby patas monkeys in the same room as baby gibbon and were warned not to let one of the gibbons get too close to the monkeys as he could cause harm. This creates an unsafe condition for both people and animals.

The staff here told us where the animals came from and in many cases they are trades with other private exotic animal collectors. The wolf cub, for example, was acquired from another private individual because the owner of this facility wants a black timber wolf pack (despite insufficient space for the existing animals). Other animals we interacted with were purchased for the purpose of bredding more. We saw mating going on and our guide told us of plans to breed many of the animals, so know that this is NOT a rescue facility for existing exotics but also active breeding. It was very distressing to see the animals that were recently young enough to interact with humans, and clearly wanted to do so, now confined to small chain link cages – it certainly detracts from any joy you might have interacting with a tiger cub to know that in a short time that cub will be with the slightly larger progression of cubs in the front yard in tiny cages, undergoing “training” and rented out for “performances.” Though the young animals having lots of interactions with people did have play areas and seem happy, the older animals in small cages definitely did not seem happy and did not appear to be having their needs for sufficient exercise space, mental stimulation, etc. met. There is no on staff vet either.

If you are an animal lover there are too many very disturbing things about this place. Fees are non-refundable and significant. Therefore evaluate carefully before you go.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maria T, Owner at Zoological Wildlife Foundation, responded to this review, April 26, 2013
We once again respect your opinion, as you have decided to remove and modify your original posting to this new one that is slightly shorter with less senseless statements. I wish our original posting would have remained up on the site…

One thing that stands true to both your postings is that they depict your support of the extinction to our world’s wildlife. Despite the efforts of conservation in the wild, it is very difficult to keep up the numbers of species in the wild and these beautiful animals are steadily depleting. Captive breeding supports their propagation and survival. How many species have gone extinct and would be around today had more people been actively propagating them? Animal exploitation exists, as does the exploitation of humans, but neither on our grounds. No person or animal at our zoo does tricks or anything of the sort, the animal training consists of human interaction.

I would like to once again correct you on the statement you said of us not being a zoo. A zoo, by definition, is an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or gardens, for study, conservation, or display to the public. Whatever your opinion or impression was, we still fit that criteria. That said I have the privilege to live on a zoo, amongst these magnificent animals and care for them during my 14 to 16 hour work day, 7 days a week.
At Zoological Wildlife Foundation, we have the utmost care for our animals and all who work here have a passion for wildlife. The majority of the staff you saw is young, as you noted, and working under direct supervision at all times during their apprenticeship of wildlife husbandry. Some may have more knowledge than others but all work here to learn and handle the animals and not only to collect a pay check. They will tell you the pay check is just the icing on the cake. We do not have job openings posted on the internet, staffing agencies or in the local newspaper as other facilities may do. We hire all our staff by recommendation and always on a trial basis. If I could find more employees with my 41 years of experience that had the heart and passion for the animals as me and the rest of my staff do, I would hire them as well. We have a full staff of trained and qualified individuals that work behind the scenes to ensure proper animal care. There is a lot of education being shared at our zoo.

We have at least 2 scheduled veterinary visits per week plus any additional as needed. This information I previously shared with you and is no secret. I personally care to my animal’s medical needs. I receive calls from graduated veterinarians asking for my assistance on animal care. We also take it animals of all types on a daily basis and rehabilitate them and find them a good home or environment to live out their lives, often our own. You appear to simply want to depict a poor image of our facility.

I will accept that the lack of using hand sanitizer was incorrect although this is standard procedure. I have considered investing in the product because of the amounts I purchase and consume. Some of your posting is unmerited, for instance the cub interaction with the dog present. The guide never left you in charge of that situation or the one with the gibbon. Many people think it’s cute to put animals together and we simply are advising them, as we did to you, to avoid doing so and also walk out quickly. I think this is proper care of animals and our patrons.

The animals do not interact with visitors daily. Many times they are displayed only and not interacted with aside from the time of their feeding by our staff. We give them time off from the public and sometimes in long or seasonal periods. We have a 40 acre facility not open to the public in Central Florida where we have the animals kept in enclosures larger than those in most public zoos. At this facility is where we care for many of our animals seasonally and as they get older.
Yes we are NOT a non-profit organization but we have many regulations and standards to meet. We have no outside funding and are fully self-sustained. As you clearly see and could confirm, we put back most of our earning into the property and the well-being of the animals. Our facility supersedes all state and federal requirements for enclosures. We are fully licensed, insured and establishing professional associations. As much as I would like to have unlimited funds, unfortunately we do not and can only do so much. Otherwise I would have hundreds of acres of man-made jungle in South Florida.

So you can be better informed, the sharing of animals amongst breeders, collectors and zoos is common and necessary. You may not understand why it is done so I will enlighten you. This is to prevent inbreeding and promote healthier animals in efforts to better propagate the species.

I am truly sorry you left with the impression that you did. We strive to bring people a lifelong lasting memory of an experience of a lifetime. The opportunities given to our patrons are one not available just anywhere or anytime. If you return to the South Florida area at any time, I invite you revisit our zoo so I could personally show you what you failed to see on your last visit.
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Florida
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Like having an uncle who owns a zoo. What a great day.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2013 via mobile

We tried this without any personal recommendation from anyone and wow... What a great day. First, the staff and owner treat you like family. The grounds are simply beautiful and the animals are so well taken care of.

We did the basic tour, which was supposed to be an hour, but turned out to be an unrushed several hours. We fed the Toucan blueberries, held 3 different baby primates and spend about 20 minutes with a baby Bengal Tiger, taking pictures and petting it.

Their are rabbits running around and cool close up views of so many different animals.

Everyone left talking about going back. I hope this place does great and that their customers are are nice as they are.. So that no one ruins it for the rest of us.

Visited April 2013
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Maynooth, Canada
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Trip Advisor needs to add stars for this attraction!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2013

First of all the grounds! They are breathtaking. Maria and Mario obviously have a vision and I can only say WOW. From the moment you check in through the gates, be prepared for beauty! Andrea, our guide, was fantastic. She met us with a white handed gibbon wrapped around her, and from there it just got better.

Private, personal tours - well worth a hearty tip. Bring you camera - you will interact with a lot of different animals, and we paid for the tiger cub as well, which was very neat. I had to laugh at the bowling ball that the tigers play with. It was chewed almost in half!

I can't say enough good things about this establishment. Mario and Maria are doing something truly wonderful here. Don't miss this one! It was a great way to launch our trip to the Keys, and we would definitely do it again!

Visited April 2013
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Maria T, Owner at Zoological Wildlife Foundation, responded to this review, April 23, 2013
Thank you for visiting us, and we are so glad that you enjoyed your tour here at our facility. We work hard to maintain our grounds and provide care for our animals, and we thank you for acknowledging our hard work and dedication to these animals. We hope you may visit us again and we will continue to work hard and ensure our animals get the best life possible here at our facility!

Sincerely,

-Mario & Maria Tabraue
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