Maria Tabraue cover
Maria Tabraue cover | Foto: Maria Tabraue cover

Wild About Maria Tabraue

Por: Karen Limón

29, November, 2021 en Latina Attitude

Mother Nature has a powerful little sister in the animal kingdom. Some address her as Queen of the Jungle, while others lovingly call her by her name – Maria Tabraue. The prolific Latina entrepreneur is a powerful force in the field of zoology. As Co-Founder and Director of Florida’s renowned Zoological Wildlife Foundation she has navigated her way through the jungle of a predominantly male-dominated field to come out swinging from the trees as the reigning authority.

When you meet Tabraue her majestic presence is profoundly mesmerizing. It leaves one pondering if she charms snakes as easily as she impresses guests who are fortunate enough to enter the gates of her Miami-based facility. Born in Cuba, she was first taught the importance of her role as a Latina from an early age. Her father’s first lessons in life were to always treat others the way you wanted to be treated. He encouraged her to follow her dreams and to never forget her roots. He also said to be tough when necessary and stand up for what you believe is right.

The dignity for her heritage created a sensibility in her that started to ignite when she was just a toddler and was allowed to adopt her first animal. While her pet chicken was not the caliber of exotic and rare species that she now surrounds herself with at ZWF, it was still one of the planet’s creatures that she knew deserved respect. These incredible moments of clarity sparked her interest in wildlife as not only a caretaker, but as a responsible and ethical practitioner of business. Her humble roots planted a genuine philosophy that is carried with her still today.

Every step Tabraue took down the path of life was moved forward while carrying a powerful message of hope that she firmly believes formed her pride as a Latina entrepreneur. Starting off her professional life in adulthood, she moved to America and found work in pharmaceuticals. The job was financially lucrative, but it was not enough. In her heart of hearts she knew she was not fulfilling her destiny.

Maria Tabraue
Maria Tabraue

She embraced the past words of her father and blended it with fresh inspiration from the likes of such Latina trailblazers as Gloria Estefan and Lili Estefan alongside the wisdom of the ultimate female guru – Oprah. Taking a huge leap, she stepped off the corporate ladder and onto her own path of zoology.

In 1999, Tabraue and her business partner Mario Tabraue together began a search for a project that would properly express her childlike passion to care for animals while creating a more harmonious world. By 2001 they bought a 5-acre piece of land that became the home of ZWF. It was here her skill sets from her prior job perfectly combined her passion for wildlife.

“It just clicked,” she reflects. “We both had an affinity for animals. We both wanted a new challenge in life where we would create our own business adventure.”

The ZWF park was an engineered dream that became a reality. The majestic headquarters of the foundation now represent her biggest aspirations – to make her family proud while finding a way to educate the public about rare and endangered animal species in captivity and in the wild. Raising community awareness has given aid to the preservation and propagation of these divine creatures that are tragically disappearing from our planet.

Tabraue is the queen of her own private jungle that serves as a perfect platform for conservation efforts. Daily she helps Mother Nature with efforts to save our precious environment. Bringing the public to the forum of ZWF is crucial for the businesswoman who now serves as a role model for visitors who come to experience the work of the foundation. Even her staff – who happens to be a team of nearly all female co-workers – is in constant awe of their tireless leader who does not let a moment go by without fighting the good fight. And like all phenomenal entrepreneurs, she never stops the battle. Her wheels constantly spin and develop ideas to continuously improve her business.

“I’m very creative and I’m very positive. I don’t like to hear negative things. When I hear negative things, I want to shut it off. It just takes away from my imaginative side and from all the goals that I want to accomplish.”

As she expands her animal empire her portfolio has impressively spread its wings to include her personally designing new architectural elements in the park and even producing a new successful podcast that promotes animal rescue awareness.

Tabraue’s positive role model status in the community has even led to recognition and admiration near and far. People just love the fact that she is breaking barriers not only as a woman, but also as a representative of incredible Latina figures in Miami. Best of all she continues to stay true to her strong roots. Like with many powerful females, she is blessed that her family is always there as well. The support greatly helps build her confidence and that in turn makes ZWF prosper.

“I’m a woman no matter what and I love to be a woman,” she says as she breaks the old-fashioned standards of a man’s world in her field by proudly wearing heels and lipstick whenever she feels like it. “I’m a businesswoman who finds balance in life. You must be that way to be complete.”

Forget Tarzan. This Jane proves time and time again that her strong will and determination to run a successful business that respects animals and humans equally is a rather impressive form of female empowerment. She roars this quality, and she roars oh, so beautifully loud.