Killer Whale Trainer’s 1960s Gem in South Miami

Killer whales, dolphins, ferrets, dogs, ducks and a rather large crocodile – it’s another day in the lives of young married couple, Ken and Marni Wood, first-time homebuyers in South Miami.

By: Yanni Georgoulakis When Marni isn’t at work training killer whales and dolphins, she’s enjoying her South Miami home with her husband Ken, two dogs, a ferret and a few wild animals in the backyard.

Ken and Marni Wood aren't your average homeowners. Marni is a killer whale and dolphin trainer at the Miami Seaquarium and her husband, Ken, who also used to work at the aquarium, is a South Florida firefighter. They managed to score a great deal on a 1960s cottage in a quiet, family (and animal) friendly neighborhood.

As I walked through the front door, I immediately noticed the pink quartz vintage terrazzo floors, as Turk, one of the family dogs, greeted me with a slobbery and welcoming hello. "This was a foreclosure and we ripped out all the carpet to find this floor, which is original to the home," said Marni. "It's great for the dogs." 

We found Snoop, the other family dog, fast asleep in the master bedroom, where portraits of both canines hang on either side of the bed. The couple recently renovated the master bathroom to create a relaxing spa-like atmosphere, complete with a rain shower. 

Turk and Snoop aren't the only animals that call this place home. Huffy the ferret lives in a cage in the "sports room," an addition to the home with a sitting area and big-screen TV.

Outside you'll find a pool and a canal teeming with ducks, turtles, fish and recently, an endangered American crocodile, nearly 10 feet long. Florida is one of the only places in the world where you can find both alligators and crocodiles in the same habitat. 

"This is one of my favorite parts of the property," said Ken. "I come out here to fish and enjoy the natural surroundings." 

Ken not only saves lives as a firefighter, but he managed to save a little duckling from the jaws of the crocodile. 

“He was here for about a month and a half straight and that’s when all the ducks began to disappear,” said Ken, who came out to the backyard one day to find the croc swimming dangerously close to a mother and her ducklings. Ken used a dip net from their pool to distract the croc away from the ducks, who were then able to swim away.

I spotted a trio of dolphins etched into the bottom of the couple’s pool and asked if they designed the artwork based on Marni's occupation. “Actually, the dolphins were already there,” said Marni. “That’s when we knew that it was fate and we had to have this house.” 

Photo by: Ken Wood Ken and Marni Wood's house sits on a lot next to a canal and features a pool with artwork depicting dolphins -- a perfect design element for the home of a dolphin trainer. 

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