Maria Tabraue for Business Concept Magazine
Maria Tabraue for Business Concept Magazine | Foto:

EXCLUSIVE: Maria Tabraue: The Queen of the Jungle on Legacy, Life and building a business that matters.

Por: Edward Rueda

24, February, 2022 en Business Concept

“My goal is to share the passion and love I have for animals with the world,” said Maria Tabraue, co-President and Director of Zoological Wildlife Foundation (ZWF).

Tabraue, a Miami resident with Cuban roots and a heart of gold, is known as the Queen of the Jungle. Her mission is to change the world through educating today’s society about rare and endangered species that are in captivity and in the wild. Tabraue’ dream came to fruition in 2000 when she obtained the opportunity to be the surrogate mother to a leopard cub she named “Gypsy”. The bond she had with Gypsy grew immensely, as did her dreams to own an establishment like the park. As a result, Tabraue assisted with launching ZWF, which is in South Florida and is considered a tourist staple in the vicinity.

“People come to experience one to one experience with the animals,” explained Tabraue.

Currently, ZWF has over 180 animals and contains a plethora of experiences guests can savor, all the way from ZWF’s VIP Jungle Experience that includes a special catered menu to ZWF’s Wildlife presentation and more. These experiences have established ZWF as one of the top attractions in South Florida.

Tabraue is very community oriented, as she often brings animal ‘ambassadors’ to schools and special events to educate society about the planet’s beautiful creatures.

“We try to help the youth that are on the quest to establish a career in what they dream for, implementing conservation & rescue programs to save mistreated and displaced animals from the wild and educating the public through our conservation programs on property,” she said. “For us, it is an accomplishment to see this and doing what we love…it’s basically the blood in our veins.”

Furthermore, she stated, “we have been successful in our on-site breeding programs to save some of the worlds most endangered species including our White Handed Gibbons – who have been listed by International Union for Conservation of Nature as having a decreasing chance of survival in the wild.

Her love for animals came about at the age of ten, when she began watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wildlife Kingdom with her father on Sunday afternoons. As a young girl, the connection between humans and animals gave Tabraue a feeling of contentment and lit a fire inside her containing creativity, curiosity, and excitement.

Maria Tabraue for Business Concept Magazine
Maria Tabraue for Business Concept Magazine

“My father was such a great influence on me and is a big part of who I am today,” said Tabraue. “He would tell me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”

To expand ZWF, Tabraue has launched Wildlife Gardens, a property lying on five acres of land and transports visitors into a tropical jungle where visitors receive salutations through the sounds of exotic birds, primates and ferocious felines. The landscape is a culmination of a tropical jungle, waterfall, live pond, and exotic animal habitat with a structure built in wood containing thatched roofing. There is also an amphitheater surrounded by a live pond filled with turtles and koi fish.

“Based on the exotic plants that we have, I always wanted to do a botanical garden,” said Tabraue regarding the Wildlife Gardens. “When I saw this, I thought we could create a venue for those that want to celebrate special milestones at the different locations in the park.”

Tabraue’ actual home, which is located inside Wildlife Gardens, serves as the ultimate space where a plethora of television shows, photoshoots and feature films were created and is often visited by local and international celebrities for a luxury pampering experience.

“The idea is that we want people to continue to visit and to bring production to South Florida amongst my work with Wildlife,” she said.

She is also one to always pay it forward, since she always worked behind the scenes to bring a variety of partnerships to ZWF, such as: Humane Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Live Like Bella, and the Zoological Association of America. In addition, Tabraue led the foundation’s participation in many conservation programs across the globe, as well as in programs in Africa and Asia.

“I like to help people because giving back to society is very important,” she said. “As my dreams have become a reality, I would love to help others make their dreams a reality as well.”

For Tabraue, philanthropy is a major part of her life. Whether it be making a wish for a cancer patient that wants to spend time with exotic animals come true, assisting those who want to become a volunteer at any of her facilities, and more.

“The idea is helping people and making their dreams a reality,” she said. “Also learning from people and how I can make the park a better place for the animals and society.”

As Tabraue is the “Queen of the Jungle ”, her participation in the fashion landscape has been a major hit. For this special cover story, Tabraue’ photo shoot was done by celebrity photographer Christopher Logan, whom she has a unique connection with.

“I love fashion as much as I love animals…it’s part of being a woman,” expressed Tabraue. “The world I am in, is mostly a man’s world, but with a touch of etiquette and class, it makes it what it is today.”

As a Latina, Tabraue feels empowered and was always taught to be a leader by her father. She feels all Hispanic women are aware they have to put in the hard work to accomplish all of their dreams.

“Nothing is given to you for free,” said Tabraue. “I advise women that want to get into this field that they have to study hard, because you are helping animals and if you are strong and have a vision, then you go for it.”

With that being said, Tabraue is also the host for podcast called “It’s a Jungle Out There”, where she’s interviewed personalities from a plethora of industries where they talk all things about life, career, and more.

“Every guest on the show has a story of their own,” said Tabraue. “The idea is to provide life tips from these stories for those who need them.”

To keep up with Tabraue, ZWF and Wildlife Gardens, follow each on Instagram over at: @mariazwfmiami, @zwfmiami, and @wildlifegardenszwf. Also, to keep up with future episodes of “It’s a Jungle Out There”, the podcast is available for listening on Apple, Audible, among other platforms.

“The key to fulfilling your dreams is love,” said Tabraue. “When you do everything with love, everything is possible.”


Talent: Maria Tabraue @mariazwfmiami

Photography: Christopher Logan @cloganstudios

Glam: Peggy Mackey @peggymackeybeauty

Production: Matthew Dillon / MDPR @mattdillon1983

Interview: Aida M. Toro @aidamtoro

Location: Wildlife Gardens @wildlifegardenszwf

ZWF Miami @zwfmiami