The WDC is one of the Chicago area's finest nature centers with world class exhibits, beautiful hiking trails and historically significant farm buildings. For more info please go to: www.wildlifediscoverycenter.org
Disclaimer: This website is not affiliated with the City of Lake Forest or any of its subsidiary bodies. The views and opinions expressed in this website do not reflect the views or positions of the City of Lake Forest. The City of Lake Forest has not and cannot verify the veracity of the content of this website and is not responsible for any injury tha tresults from the reliance on information presented on this website. The Wildlife Discovery Center is a combination of a zoological institution that specializes in reptiles and raptors/birds, nature center, museum and biological station all wrapped into one of the most unique facilities of its kind. Here's what we have to offer (for info on admission fees, membership, etc go to http://www.wildlifediscoverycenter.org/): -Extensive venomous reptile exhibit. - The conservation education program is a special one day field trip experience for grades 5-8. Adult programs too. -Our Main Exhibit Room features: crocodilians, turtles/tortoises, lizards and snakes including rarities such as the Crocodile Monitor, gila monster and beaded lizards! -Outdoor/Indoor Raptor Exhibits including: Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, Red-tailed Hawk and a Harris' Hawk -Nature/Interpretive trails with many wildlife viewing opportunities overlooking the 700 acre Middlefork Savanna - the finest black soil, tall grass savanna in North America! - "Discover the Middlefork Savanna" Interpretive trail features "Jesse's Pond" (a large contained outdoor turtle pond for painted turtles, blanding's,spotteds, and other native herps....beautiful protected outdoor exhibit). Jesse's Pond was named in honor of the late Jesse Carlson who passed away in 2008 and was a big part of the WDC. Other ammenities of this trail include a large wildlife viewing deck facing towards the highest quality tall grass savanna in North America. Butterfly Garden in honor of the late Max Schewitz who worked for the WDC before passing due to an undetected heart defect. The Max Schewitz Foundation does a lot of great work for both conservation and early detection of heart problems with youth: www.maxandthewildthings.com -Wildlife Conservation Education Programs for preschool to high school aged people. Adult programs too! -Reptile/Raptor Rescues: we assist local, state and federal agencies -Research: our current research is focusing on establishing captive breeding techniques of blanding's turtles and eastern massasaugas. We also captive breed rare rattlesnakes such as Crotalus willardi and a few others. Another important project consists of conducting a radio telemetry study involving the Western Fox Snake. -Lectures: Curator will speak at area colleges, universities and conservation groups...including live venomous demonstrations "a la Carl Kauffeld"! -Captive Breeding: We have successfully bred over 30 species of reptiles -Group Programs - Wildlife Rescues and Rehabilitation: we focus primarily on reptiles and raptors.
Mission: To build new generations of guardians and advocates for all wildlife and their habitat through sharing, caring, research and many adventures in conservation education.
We are so thrilled to announce that we will be re-opening our outdoor interpretive trail back up on Friday, June 12! Our indoor exhibit halls and bathrooms will remain closed until further notice. We will stress maintaining proper social distance, following the one way directional signs, and encouraging the use of PPE’s.
We have eleven AMAZING COLLEGE INTERNS joining us this summer and are currently being trained. We will be introducing them to you throughout the summer. Stay tuned!
Today’s FB Live will start at 10:30am so a bit earlier than normal as we have our college intern training today. Paulina Sobieralski is one of our keepers who will be talking about Crested Geckos! Tune in!
We would like to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day as we honor all of those who have served, currently served and for those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. We can’t think of a more patriotic way of saying that than featuring our magnificent Bald Eagle “Betsy”! Betsy the Bald Eagle’s training has been coming along so well! Our ultimate goal is to be able to take her out of her cage to do educational talks but even tasks like going into a kennel for vet exams and other health checks. Kelly Schaaf and the rest of the “Shedd Crew” (Maggie, Tracey, Laura, and soon, Naomi) have done a fabulous job putting their marine mammal training skills to good use in working with our animals. You’ll see two clips; the second one shows a critical part of training and that’s replicating a desired behavior. Great job!!
Just a reminder the WDC is still closed but stay tuned! We hope to have the outdoor interpretive trail open by mid June!
We wanted to wish everyone a Happy World Turtle Day to everyone. It’s hard to believe that over 60% of the world’s turtle species are threatened or endangered. We are seeing a worldwide collapse and there’s many things we can do to not only help endangered species, but to also ensure that we keep common species, common. You can help turtles by making sure you dispose of litter/garbage properly rather than letting it get into the waterways. You can support nature centers like the WDC who help support conservation organizations while also helping us to take care of our many resident turtles. If you see a turtle on the road, you can help a turtle by safely pulling over and ensure your safety and the safety of the public. Then, move the turtle well off the side of the road in the direction you first found the turtle. Live sustainably and help keep our wetlands clean. We hope to reopen our outdoor exhibits in the next few weeks so stay tuned! Here’s one of our resident Spiny Softshell Turtles that lives in our outdoor pond. What a gorgeous turtle!
Our volunteers have been doing a great job while we’ve been closed to the public. Maggie Fahner is one of our amazing volunteers! She was a former Shedd marine mammal trainer who now trains dogs professionally and under the watchful eye of Kelly Schaaf, got a great shot of Maggie having success! Betsy the Bald Eagle has come a long way in her training and little by little is showing a level of trust that we haven’t seen before. Great job to our amazing and talented volunteers!
High Five to Volunteer Steve Ballen and assisted by keeper Peter Crawford for installing a new perimeter fence so that we can be in compliance with USDA since we keep the foxes in this area. Once this project is completed we will be connecting the two cages and giving the foxes more space:-). Great job!!
Please watch our friend, Stephanie Arne Davison's "State of the Earth with Stephanie Arne"...you'll see us on this video🙂 Stephanie has done so much for conservation and we know the curator’s wife Toni Carmichael loves seeing women in science being successful!! Great job!!!!
Explore good news from the worlds of conservation, environment, animals, wildlife and much more with Stephanie Arne.
Hello everyone! Make sure you tune in to our FB Live on Friday as we will be doing our show from Oshkosh, WI, home of MToxins! We’ve partnered with this venom extraction lab/public nature center and bringing them a couple of animals tomorrow. This is a must see place! Stay tuned and we’ll be going live on Friday at around 11am ish!
This time of year we start receiving a lot of calls about coyote concerns. In nearly all cases when someone sees a coyote, they mean no harm and by taking some simple precautions, we can all live peacefully around them. Coyotes play a critically important role in maintaining balanced and healthy ecosystems by being tertiary consumers (animals that eat other animals). It’s sad to see these animals vilified and so misunderstood. Seeing a coyote does not mean that it’s a nuisance coyote or that it’s stalking you. Take a look at this pamphlet we helped write for the Lake Forest Police Department. Bottom line is that if you have a small to medium sized dog: 1. keep it on a 6-8 foot leash, 2. have something that can make noise, and 3. if loose in your yard, keep it under close supervision. Also, if you have pet cats, keep them indoors or build a catiary which is a safe, outdoor enclosed area for your kittie. Get out and enjoy nature; we all need it now more than ever!
Most go unnoticed, but our community is perfect habitat for the infamous Coyote. Thankfully, most interactions are uneventful but as we have encroached on their habitat, their behavior has evolved to be far less fearful of our activities. In nearly all cases, if you leave them alone, they'll l...
Today was a nice weather day so Kelly Schaaf and Tracey Kihnke did some training with Betsy the Bald Eagle. It’s been a long process but our current and former Shedd Aquarium marine mammal trainers are experts at patience and reading animals. Our goal is to eventually get Betsy to sit on the globe so that we can take her out to give visitors a cool close encounter with this majestic bird. It’s also great enrichment for her. Great job folks!!
It’s the start of a new week and though we are still closed, we are getting closer to reopening sometime this summer (fingers crossed!). Check out this fascinating article about how our native Garter Snakes seeks out “friends” much like what humans do. We always knew we loved these commonly seen snakes but now this just makes them the coolest serpents on earth!!
New research finds eastern garter snakes prefer to spend their time with their friends, just like humans do.
The entire crew at the WDC would like to say a big HAPPY MOTHER’s DAY!! The qualities of being a great mother comes from within and we are so thankful to all of our moms. We’ve seen so many wonderful fur-moms too....and some mothers prefer animals with scales:-). All of you are amazing and we can’t wait for the day when we can see all of you again walking the grounds! We hope every type of mother gets spoiled rotten today!
We have an amazing and talented group of volunteers at the WDC. Kelly Schaaf was a former head marine mammal trainer at the Shedd Aquarium before becoming a nurse. Since coming on board at the WDC, she has brought four other veteran marine mammal trainers from the Shedd Aquarium with her to the WDC! What an All-Star Team we have! Today, Kelly made a breakthrough with Betsy the Bald Eagle as we hope to get her on the glove for future educational programs. Lalainya was on the camera and she volunteers here while working full time at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center. Pretty cool group we have!!
Good morning from the Windy City!! It’s a beautiful day in Lake Forest and we hope
You’ll join us at 11am for FB Live. Today we will be featuring our resident toads; an American Toad and Persia’s the largest toad you’ll ever see in your life!! Stay tuned!!
Join us for FB Live today at 11:30am as we talk about the Eastern Milksnake!
Boris the Bobcat says Happy Cinco de Meow!:-). While we are closed, the WDC staff have been spoiling the animals. Steve Ballen has been Boris’ faithful friend for over a decade and thank you Steve for being an amazing volunteer!! Steve also works with “Sweetie” the American Crow. Not only is Steve great with the animals, but this retired accountant is our official handyman and has been instrumental in many projects. Thanks Steve!!!
We are so blessed to have such an amazing group of volunteers and you’ll be “meeting” them here in the next two weeks.
Good morning! Wow what a beautiful day we have at the WDC. And while we are closed through May, the Middlefork Savanna, owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District, is open and has some breathtaking views on the highest quality oak savanna in the country! Please continue to exercise safe distancing and wearing a mask when in group settings. Today’s FB Live will be at 11am. Also, the WDC has now ironed out how we can offer private and personalized virtual animal encounters and animal shows for Birthday Parties, scout groups or maybe just some one on one family time and our WDC staff and animals! The process is fairly simple:
1. Message us here or email the curator at [email protected] and let us know what you are interested in. Give us a few dates and times too (animal shows are 30 minutes, animal encounters are between 15-30 minutes). We will give you a price quote and once all of the details are agreed upon, you will:
2. Create an account at the Lake Forest Parks and Recreation registration site:
3. Once completed, message us here and the Curator will then go and put the amount due onto your account. Once paid, we will provide you with the Zoom link and password. We look forward to bringing the WDC to the privacy of your home!
What a gorgeous day in Chicago! We will have our FB Live today at 11am which is a littler earlier than our usual time. We will be featuring an important and timely topic; how to save a turtle on the road in a safe manner. You won’t want to miss it!
Have you ever seen an owl woof down it’s meal? “Humble” the Great Horned Owl has been a part of the WDC family since the early 2000’s and is a stunning example of her kind. The curator was giving her a nice lunch of dead rodents. Notice how she engulfs the rat in a few gulps once it’s in proper position. She will then cough up a pellet in a day or two consisting of undigested fur and bones. Yummy!!:-)
We are so proud to be a part of the Lake Forest Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department for the City of Lake Forest. All of our staff representing our various areas just wanted to say we miss all of you. Big thanks to the “Creative Team” of Kristin, Brittni and Valerie for putting this together!
Lake Forest Parks and Recreation and Forestry staff are here for you during these difficult times. We hope you are all staying safe and healthy and look forw...
The WDC sure loves its family of crocodilians !! Here’s Pierre the Morelets Crocodile, native to Mexico southward down through Belize displaying its amazing ability to ambush. This video shows what amazing predators crocodiles are....pure stealth and ambush! You’ll see how Pierre literally cokes out of nowhere, grabs its food and then disappears in a blink of an eye. He’s currently off exhibit but enjoying his digs!
Hello folks! This is just a PSA/reminder. Tonight, we had a small group of younger people ignore our “closed” signs and come right onto our interpretive trail (literally walking right by the large signs) where our animals live and on top of that, they weren’t wearing masks as well which is a direct violation of a city mandate. This has been a familiar theme lately so we have to address this here. This type of behavior puts our staff/volunteers and animals in danger. Please, please, please obey the rules and be respectful. We know this is a tough time and folks are itching to see the animals up close but we have to obey the state and city directives. We will re-open but we don’t have a timeline yet. Hazel the sloth says thank you!
1401 Middlefork Dr
Lake Forest, IL
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127 E Scranton Ave, Lake Bluff
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