Zoological Wildlife Foundation: una aventura inolvidable

La verdad es que nunca he tenido una mascota y mi interacción con los animales se ha limitado a los perros y caballos de la finca y a mi pequeño pececito.  Los animales domésticos no fueron parte de mi infancia y mucho menos de mi adolescencia. Sólo tuve una pequeña tortuguita    de agua dulce que sacaba a pasear al balcón porque me daba pesar que siempre estuviera encerrada en tu mi alcoba.

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A pesar de mi limitada experiencia con animales tengo una debilidad absurda por los animales salvajes. Desde pequeñita el zoológica de Cali, ha sido mi lugar favorito del Valle del Cauca. Lo visito al menos 1 vez al año y ahora, viviendo en Bogotá, lo hago cada vez que viajo a la sucursal del cielo.

Estando en Miami, mi novio me invitó a un zoológico donde uno podía cargar animales bebés y entrar en contacto personal con alguno de nuestro interés. Llenos de entusiasmo, fuimos en busca de un encuentro de 15 minutos con nuestro animal elegido. Aunque mi animal favorito es la nutria, escogí el tiliger, un híbrido entre un tigre y una ligresa, porque los tigres me parecen majestuosos y espectaculares. Por su parte mi novio escogió otro felino, un leopardo.

20170504_151855724_iOSEl Zoological Wildlife Foundation está lejos de ser un zoológico tradicional.  Es una fundación cuyo propósito es educar al público para que respete y admire las especies exóticas y motivarnos para que evitemos su captura o retirarlas de su hábitat natural. Cuenta con unas instalaciones espectaculares donde los animales son cuidados con mucho amor.

 En un día soleado emprendimos con entusiasmo nuestro viaje a éste bello lugar ubicado en medio de grandes extensiones de tierra de fincas  agrícolas. Aunque para llegar utilizamos el GPS también tuvimos que recurrir a la guía de los funcionarios de la fundación pues no es fácil encontrar la entrada al predio.  Cuando finalmente llegamos, entramos un mundo maravilloso que supera cualquier tipo de expectativa.

Ingresamos a través de unas rejas propias de las mansiones y desde el carro observamos una organización increíble, la casa principal, posiblemente la residencia de los dueños del lugar, la familia  de  don  Mario Tabraue. Contigua a ésta una casa más pequeña donde se recibe a los visitantes,  ambas rodeadas de cuidados  prados  y, a la  vista de todos, los hábitats de una  gran variedad de animales.

20150321_154514071_iOSLa visita está organizada en tres diferentes momentos. Primero ingresamos a una especie de bungalow, construcción con techo de paja y vigas de madera, rodeado de un reservorio sembrado de peces de colores. Mientras nuestra guía conseguía contagiarnos la alegría del lugar y explicaba características propias de las diferentes especies, crecía nuestro entusiasmo por interactuar con bebés de diferentes especies que iban rotando, de mano en mano. Cargué un caimán, una boa constrictora, un mono capuchino, un mono gibón, una cacatúa y un búho. El high light del proceso fue experimentar la  ternura  de los monos bebés que lucían  pañales  y  permanecían fuertemente aferrados a sus juguetes.

DCIM100GOPROG0060808.Una vez salimos del quiosco recorrimos la propiedad y hábitat de felinos,  micos, osos hormigueros, osos perezosos,  variedad de aves y otros tipos de animales. Lo mejor del recorrido fue dar de comer zanahorias a los camellos. Lo indicado por sus cuidadores es poner una zanahoria en nuestra boca para que el camello se acerque y te la quite, simulando darte un beso.

 

20150321_170830288_iOSPor último, el momento más esperado del tour, el encuentro privado con el   bebé exótico elegido,  tuvo lugar en los hermosos  jardines  que rodean la casa principal con su majestuosa fuente custodiada por estatuas de leones. En ese momento compartimos con un leopardo, una osa grizzli, un tiliger, todos con apariencia de peluches que evidencian los  buenos cuidado que les proporcionan.  Mientras yo compartía con Mbali, el tiliger  otras personas lo   hacían con Eva, una osa grizzli de corta  edad que emitía  sonidos bastante  tiernos mientras  trataba de caminar en sus patas traseras. Por su parte, mi novio tuvo su encuentro con Vladlena un bebé leopardo amur, de pocos meses de edad, con grandes ojos azules y pelaje lleno de manchitas, con apariencia de  peluche, que se dejó cargar y abrazar sin ningún resistencia. Mbali, mi bebé elegida, un poco mayor que los demás, se mostró inquieta, no se dejó cargar aunque si la acaricié y compartí a su lado mientras jugueteaba. Esos 15 minutos fueron suficientes para sentir una alegría inmensa e hicieron de esta visita uno de los momentos más especiales de mi vida.

 Mi recomendación es que si viajas a Miami vayan a ZWF donde podrás vivir una experiencia incomparable e inolvidable. En este momento tienen nutrias bebés y el chimpancé más tierno de la historia.


The truth is that I have never had a pet and my interaction with animals has been limited to the dogs, horses and fish I had in my aquarium. Domestic animals were not part of my childhood and much less of my adolescence. The most I had was a little turtle that I took out to walk the balcony because I felt bad that it was always trapped in the mini habitat. Although my experience with animals is very limited I have an incredible weakness for wild animals. While living in Cali I would visit the zoo more than once a year and now living in Bogota, every time I travel back, I visit. It is practically my favorite place back in Cali.

IMG_9089While in Miami, my boyfriend told me about a “zoo” where you could carry baby animals. We researched and bought a package to visit the facility and that included direct contact with some of the animals that were available at that time. I chose a tiliger, a hybrid between a tiger and a lioness because, although my favorite animal is the otter, tigers have always been majestic and spectacular to me. My boyfriend chose another feline, an amur leopard. We went with a lot of enthusiasm, but with few expectations because we had no idea how the logistics would be and on the website the encounter with the animal that we had chosen had maximum duration of 15 minutes.

It turns out that Zoological Wildlife Foundation is far from a zoo. It is a foundation that has spectacular facilities where rescued animals are supremely loved and its purpose is to educate the public to respect and admire exotic species so that they are not captured and removed from their natural habitat.

20150321_154431494_iOSIt was a sunny day in Miami and we started our trip, the truth is the foundation is in the middle of nowhere among fields and huge crops of land. The GPS took us to the other side property which was in the middle of farms. There was nowhere to go and at this point we called the office and they provided specific instructions as to how to arrive to the facility. When we finally arrived, we entered a world where our expectations were blown out of the water. A mansion with a huge front gate received us. As soon as we entered the incredible organization of the place stood out immediately. There was the main house, I imagine that is where Mario Tabraue and his wife live, the owners of the place, a smaller house where they receive all visitors, the garden and green areas, which were very well taken care of, and the habitats of the animals could be seen upon entering the property.

20170504_152403022_iOSThe tour was divided into three parts. The first thing we did was get into a bungalow which was surrounded by a pond full of giant koi fish. Our guide’s enthusiasm made the atmosphere of the place great (as if I needed an extra degree of enthusiasm). We had the opportunity to interact with many baby animals. I carried a caiman, a boa constrictor, a capuchin monkey, a gibbon monkey, a cockatoo and an owl. The animals are rotating through the hands of all the attendees while the guide explains the characteristics of the species. The best part was definitely the fact that the baby monkeys were super loving, have diapers and are always playing with their toys. I could not keep myself from smiling the whole time.

After everyone had the opportunity to interact with each of the animals we left the bungalow and started walking around the property. Each of the species has its own habitat, there were several specicies of felines, different monkeys, anteaters, sloths and birds. The best thing about the tour is to be able to feed carrots to the camels. The plan is to put the carrot in your mouth, the camel approaches and takes it away, simulating a kiss.

20150321_170815977_iOSFinally, the most awaited moment of the tour had arrived, the encounter with one of the most exotic baby animals. When I visited ZWF you could choose between an amur leopard, a grizzly bear, a tiliger, among others. The encounter is much more private with the animal of your choice. It was one of the most special moments of my life. All the babies looked like stuffed animals and you can tell how well they are taken care of. The encounters took place in front of the main house in a beautiful garden area that had all kinds of lion shaped statues and a huge fountain. While I was with Mbali, the baby tiliger I spent my time with, people a few feet away were sharing their time with Eva, a grizzly bear only a few months old. She made some very tender sounds as she tried to walk on her hind legs. Mbali on the other hand was already a little older and therefore very restless and I could not hold her. I did however caressed her and admired her while she played. Those 15 minutes were enough to feel immense joy. Before my encounter, my boyfriend had his with a baby amur leopard, it was literally a stuffed animal. Her name was Vladlena, she was only few months old and allowed him to hug her without any problems. Her eyes were blue as the sea, her fur was soft to the touch full of spots. 20170504_151405000_iOS

If you are traveling to Miami I would definitely recommend booking a visit to ZWF (make sure to include the animal encounter), it is an unforgettable experience. They currently have baby otters and a spectacular baby chimp to choose from!

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