I am the Chief Veterinary Officer for Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens as well as the Director for the Central Florida Zoo’s Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation. I am a veterinarian board certified in Reptile and Amphibian Practice and have a veterinary master’s degree in conservation medicine. I am currently the president of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians and the Reptile and Amphibian Regent for the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. I am also the Veterinary Advisor for AZA Eastern Indigo Snake TAG.
Start a new Christmas tradition with Holiday Breakfast with Santa at ZooTampa!
ZooTampa and Christmas in the Wild admission is not included with the Holiday Breakfast with Santa. ZooTampa members and Pay for a Day ticket holders are welcome to explore the Zoo after the event. Need admission to ZooTampa? Click here to purchase Zoo admission or become a Member.
Doors will open at 8:30am and will conclude at 10am. Seating is first-come, first-served. This is a rain or shine event and will take place outdoors under our Saunders Pavilion.
Photos will be available for purchase, but guests are welcome to take photos with their own devices.
For dietary restrictions and other special requests, please contact our Guest Engagement team at GuestEngagement@ZooTampa.org.
Guest must have a Christmas in the Wild ticket to participate in all Holiday Signature Encounters. Holiday African Penguin Encounter will be offered on event nights only at 4:45pm and 5pm. Holiday Indian Rhino Encounter will be offered on event nights only at 6pm. Separate ticket required for all encounters. Guests must be ages 5 and up and children 5-17 must be accompanied by an adult.
Nicolás Maldonado grew up in Puerto Rico, and was raised on his family’s cattle farm surrounded by many animals. In 1997, he came to the United States to attend college at Colorado State University. After college, he went on to fulfill his dream of becoming a veterinarian, earning his DVM at Tuskegee University. Dr. Maldonado then completed a small animal and exotics internship at a veterinary hospital in Georgia, and an avian and exotics residency program at Florida Veterinary Specialists (now Blue Pearl Tampa). He now practices small animal and exotic medicine full-time at a private practice in the Tampa Bay area. He has worked with the veterinary staff at Zoo Tampa since 2011. Dr. Maldonado has a special interest in reptiles and amphibians, and has been involved in breeding programs for the Panamanian Golden Frog and Puerto Rican Crested Toad. His passion is for snakes.
Over the years, Nicolás has had many pets including dogs, cats, snakes, tarantulas, birds, tropical fish, frogs and tortoises. He has raised and bred various species of birds, frogs, turtles, and snakes. His hobbies include playing guitar, soccer, HAM radio, hiking, biking, skim-boarding, skateboarding, camping with his family, and vacationing in Puerto Rico.
Something is buzzing in Tampa this Spring. An invasion of epic proportions. Giant larger-than-life BUGS are coming to ZooTampa. Guests will shrink down and be immersed in BUGTOPIA, the fantastic world of animals that slither, crawl, and fly. The family-friendly event will feature 13 species of animatronic bugs that will amaze while educating guests in fun and unique ways. Adventurers will join professor Mo Alexander and his research assistants as they explore the important and fascinating role these tiny creatures have on the preservation of the world we share.