From the clubs on South Beach to the drivers on Interstate 95, Miami is a wild place. But the wildest place of all is an attraction you’ve probably never heard of! Deco’s wild man, Chris Van Vliet, is here with a look.
If you haven’t heard of Zoological Wildlife Foundation or ZWF, then get ready to be blown away. What if I told you there’s a place in Miami where you can play with baby lions, baby tigers and chimpanzees? Get ready to keep up with this.
Chris Van Vliet: “I think a lot of people don’t even know that this exists just outside of Miami.”
Mario Tabrauem, president and director: “Honestly, in Miami, less people know than anywhere else in the country.”
Zoological Wildlife Foundation is a five-acre zoo offering intimate and hands-on animal encounters starting at $85 per person.
Mario Tabrauem: “Basically, what we do here is give people the experience of a lifetime.”
Through that experience, their goal is to educate about the dangers these animals face in the wild.
Chris Van Vliet: “Can you give me five?”
Mario Tabrauem: “Give him high five.”
*Limbani the chimpanzee gives Chris high five*
Mario Tabrauem: “Alright!”
Say “hi” to my new friend, Limbani. He’s a 2.5-year-old chimpanzee and one of the main stars here at ZWF.
*Chris and Mario swing Limbani*
Chris Van Vliet: “Weee!”
Mario Tabrauem: “He loves this stuff.”
But not all the animals are … well, cute, like this guy, a Burmese python named Banana.
Max Contador, tour guide supervisor: “He’s really good. If you want, I can definitely put him on your shoulders.”
Chris Van Vliet: “OK, let’s do it.”
*Max puts Banana on Chris’ shoulders*
Chris Van Vliet: “He’s heavier than you’d think.”
*Chris shows off Banana to the camera*
Chris Van Vliet: “Say ‘hi’ over here. He’s a little camera shy. A little camera shy.”
Chris Van Vliet: “What is this, or should I say ‘whoo‘ is this?”
Max Contador: “So this is Hank. He’s a Eurasian eagle owl.”
Chris Van Vliet: “Oh, wow. That is so intense when they look at you. It’s like he’s staring into my soul.”
Max Contador: “So this is Bonnie. She’s our squirrel monkey.”
*Bonnie plays with Chris’ mic*
Max Contador: “Dude, come on.”
Chris Van Vliet: “She really wants that microphone.”
Max Contador: “Yeah, she does.”
Chris Van Vliet: “We can hear you. You don’t need to be right up in front of it.”
Are you ready to say “aww?” Let’s do it together: Awwww! This is Raja, a 2.5-month-old golden tabby Bengal tiger.
*Montage of Raja playing*
Chris Van Vliet: “Look at the size of his paws!”
*Chris plays tug-of-war with Raja*
Chris Van Vliet: “No, I want it. I want. No, I want it.”
Of course, we couldn’t go without showing you the newest addition to the ZWF family.
Max Contador: “So this is our baby white lion. She’s 4 weeks old.”
Chris Van Vliet: “Hi. Look how sweet you are! You realize it doesn’t matter what we say right now. Nobody’s listening to us.”
Max Contador: “You’re not wrong. Everyone always focuses on our little cubs.”
Zoological Wildlife Foundation is open seven days a week. You’ll just want to be sure to make reservations for your animal experiences before you get there.
People always come up to me and say, “What’s your next Keeping Up With Chris segment?” Well, you tell me! Email me: KeepingUpWithChris@wsvn.com.
You may have noticed that I didn’t tell you the name of that baby lion, and that’s because she doesn’t have one yet. They are actually having a naming contest for her on Instagram. If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve linked to them in my latest post.
FOR MORE INFO:
Zoological Wildlife Foundation
16225 SW 172nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33187
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