Wildlife Discovery Center

Wildlife Discovery Center 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.

Operating as usual

10/16/2020
Waukegan Park District

While the WDC is currently closed until Covid rates improve, we’ll feature former staff and intern successes and go back to our FB Live spots so stay tuned! Former WDC Staff member Javi Javier Martinez and his colleague from the Waukegan Park District teach us how to carve a pumpkin. Way to go Javi and thanks for being so such a great role model and community leader in Waukegan! https://www.facebook.com/WaukeganParkDistrict/videos/346340739978867/?vh=e&extid=0

It's pumpkin season! Learn how to carve your own pumpkin with spooky faces to display at your home this Halloween!

¡Es la temporada de calabazas! ¡Aprenda a escarbar y tallar su propia calabaza con caras espeluznantes para exhibir en su hogar este Halloween!

*** CROCtoberfest Canceled ***We had to make the very difficult decision to cancel CROCtoberfest on Sunday due to the su...
10/14/2020
Wildlife Discovery Center Exhibit Upgrades

*** CROCtoberfest Canceled ***

We had to make the very difficult decision to cancel CROCtoberfest on Sunday due to the sudden uptick of COVID cases in our area. Public safety, the safety of our staff/volunteers/interns and the animals are our first priority. BUT!!!...join us on FB Live on Sunday from 11-Noon as we will talk about our resident crocodilians including feeding demos!!

The WDC will be closed to the public until further notice.

If you want to help support the WDC, please go to: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/wildlife-discovery-center-exhibit-upgrades

The Wildlife Discovery Center is a living museum and biological station at historic Elawa Farm, situated alongside the Middlefork Savanna, a 670-acre wildlife habitat in Lake Forest. The WDC is home to approximately 85 species of animals. During regular visiting hours, you can talk with our ...

10/14/2020

Our amazing team of volunteers have come through again led by the charge of Steve Ballen and assisted by Matt Reid. They built a door between their current habitat and their new expanded area. We are expanding our coyote habitat and should be completed tomorrow and new signage later this week. The curator and his wife decided to see if they wanted to explore their new expansion. It took some coaxing and TLC from Rob and Toni Carmichael but she finally wandered over and after needing some cuddling and reassurance, she played and played and did everything she could to encourage Met to come over but he wasn’t having it yet (but came close so we know he’ll come over soon!). More to come!

Make sure you get your copy!   WDC featured in “Eat & Explore Illinois” cookbook!   We will have coooes for sale for onl...
10/07/2020

Make sure you get your copy! WDC featured in “Eat & Explore Illinois” cookbook! We will have coooes for sale for only $10 at our next CROCtoberfest on October 18. A big thanks to Knauz Auto Park for being our event sponsor and a great supporter over the years!

What an amazing CROCtoberfest we had!!  Beautiful day and a real nice crowd that was properly face masked and socially d...
10/05/2020

What an amazing CROCtoberfest we had!! Beautiful day and a real nice crowd that was properly face masked and socially distanced. Way to go! Big thanks to all of our amazing staff, volunteers and college interns. We’ve got the best of the best!! Thanks also to Toni Carmichael for bringing Henry the Sloth out for a meet and greet, Bob Bavirsha for being his alligators, Nate Truax for driving here from Ohio to help out, Kelly/Laura/Lalainya for putting on some great demos and bringing the birds out. Some of our amazing former college interns came out along with our current interns. Please come back!:-). And a big thanks to the community for supporting the event and to Knauz Auto Park for sponsoring this event. Awesome job everyone and Crocodiles got their die today.

We’ve had a number of folks mention that they can’t make our events but want to contribute, can go to our foundation’s w...
10/04/2020
Friends Of Lake Forest Parks And Recreation | friends-of-lake-forest-parks-and-recreation

We’ve had a number of folks mention that they can’t make our events but want to contribute, can go to our foundation’s website and click the Boris the Bobcat icon and make an online donation. Thx so much!!!

https://charity.gofundme.com/friends-of-lake-forest-parks-and-recreation?lang=en-us

It is our mission to facilitate the growth, development and improvement of the Lake Forest Parks and Recreation facilities and offerings to the community. Activities: Provide an organization that helps to manage and execute the vision of philanthropic donors to the community. To identify and promote...

It’s our first CROCtoberfest day today!!   See previous posts for additional details and the “rules of the road” (face c...
10/04/2020

It’s our first CROCtoberfest day today!! See previous posts for additional details and the “rules of the road” (face coverings mandatory). Also, since we cannot have hands in arts and crafts, here are some coloring sheets. If you color and bring with you we will put them on our coloring wall by our bald Eagle. Looks like a great day to come and enjoy some fresh air, great animals and the amazing WDC crew! Thank you for your support and thank you Knauz Auto Park for sponsoring this event once again!!

The eve of our first of two CROCtoberfests is upon us.  We hope to see some of our faithful friends tomorrow.  In additi...
10/04/2020

The eve of our first of two CROCtoberfests is upon us. We hope to see some of our faithful friends tomorrow. In addition to some special guests and our WDC animals, we have a full slate of animal demos throughout the day. Although we are asking for a $10 donation per person, we know these have been difficult times for many so any amount is appreciated and if you are unable to contribute, that’s okay too; we want you to come! A HUGE thanks to Knauf Auto Park for their continued support of this event. We will also have some merchandise to sell too. A few “rules of the road” for tomorrow:
- Everyone 3 years or older must wear a protective mask
- Everyone must practice social distancing
- we will allow 50 guests at a time on the trail
- All proceeds will benefit the WDC
Thank you for your support!

Don’t forget to stop by on Sunday (or if you miss this one not to worry as we will be back on October 18) for CROCtoberf...
10/01/2020

Don’t forget to stop by on Sunday (or if you miss this one not to worry as we will be back on October 18) for CROCtoberfest! Proceeds will benefit the WDC’s resident crocodilians. Big thanks to Knauf Auto Park for being our sponsor again! We do require face masks and social distancing so keep that in mind. $10 donation per person helps us to continue to operate (credit card or cash; no change given so exact change preferred).

We had a perfect weather day and we loved seeing the many visitors who came today.  Nothing beats seeing smiling faces e...
09/21/2020

We had a perfect weather day and we loved seeing the many visitors who came today. Nothing beats seeing smiling faces even under their masks! Our outdoor trail is open Ties/Fri/Sat/Sun 10-4. We can’t have visitors outside of these hours as the animals need their downtime. When folks come onto the trail on our closed days or after hours, it stresses the animals out. We appreciate those who follow the rules.

09/20/2020

The Curator would like to thank Lake Forest Open Lands Association for putting on a great community event as a different 2020 twist to the annual Bagpipes and Bonfire event that is one of the premier events in our community. This year, bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” at a number of sites around Lake Forest and it was a great way to bring neighborhoods together and celebrate all that LFOLA has done for our community over the years. Great job!! We look forward to bringing the animals to next year’s event and it’ll be an amazing celebration! #lfola #lakeforestopenlands #middleforksavanna #elawafarm #wdc

09/13/2020

Quick “Shrimp” the Komodo Dragon update: Her strength is coming back and she’s is getting more and more active since surgery. We’ve made some modifications to her every day life to ensure that the prolapse doesn’t return. One change is that we will be feeding her chopped prey so that they are easier to digest. We’ve also bumped up the heating and increased hydration. What an amazing animal! Big thanks again to Dr Barten at the Vernon Hills Animal Hospital and Dr Mans at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine for saving her!

The WDC crew including current and former college interns and volunteers shared many animals on Holes 12 and 13 at the F...
09/12/2020

The WDC crew including current and former college interns and volunteers shared many animals on Holes 12 and 13 at the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation’s Fred Jackson Classic. We saw some great shots from the golfers who showed a lot of interest in our critters. Also, thank you Bob Bavirsha for sharing your alligators and spur-thigh tortoise with the golfers! It was a great team effort and the Curator appreciates all of your efforts! The staff at Deerpath Golf Club and the Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Department did a spectacular job as always. And wow the new rescue boat the Friends Foundation purchased shows why Lake a Forest is the finest community to live in! Until next year!

09/08/2020

Cassanova the American Alligator had some watermelon enrichment this morning. We grow some of our own produce at the WDC and thought that a watermelon for Cassanova to play with and work his jaws would be a fun way to start the day. It only took a few hours and the watermelon was just a few chunks of rind floating in his pool, we think he had a great time!

We hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day.   Although we are usually closed on Mondays, we will be opening the ani...
09/07/2020

We hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day. Although we are usually closed on Mondays, we will be opening the animal trail today from 10-3. You’ll now see cable barriers in place that now close the trail so that the animals can have the peace and quiet they need. Please observe posted operating days/times. The Curator will be holding the fort down today so you may see him doing animal chores:-). Photo of Jax the Red Fox by college intern Mya Hartline.

09/06/2020

Great job to volunteer Kelly Schaaf and the rest of the volunteer crew for the amazing job you are doing with Betsy. Once labeled “untrainable”, this eagle has made so much progress this past year. Kelly is now rewarding Betsy when she comes to the globe but then relaxes (not when she gets footy at the very beginning). Once she got going with the desires behavior, she was on autopilot! Won’t be long before we can bring her outside of her habitat!

Our Ridge-tailed Monitors (native to Australia), sure miss having visitors.   Although our indoor exhibit halls remain c...
08/31/2020

Our Ridge-tailed Monitors (native to Australia), sure miss having visitors. Although our indoor exhibit halls remain closed until further notice, our outdoor exhibits are open Tues/Fri/Sat/Sun 10-4. We will soon be putting up temporary barriers with “outdoor trail closed” signs as we continue to have challenges with people coming after we close. Our animals need peace and quiet later in the afternoon and folks don’t realize that when they break the rules, they are stressing the animals out. Please be considerate and follow the posted “operating hours”. We hope to have a couple of Night Rangers hires soon to ensure a safe atmosphere for our animals.

08/27/2020

Mena the Coyote enjoys her daily walks in our trail. This is her turf now and she loves getting out and playing and running all over the prairie grasses. We hope everyone enjoys the day as much as Mena is! Some experts think that the behavior of rolling (especially on top of a carcass) is a way to mask their scent to help them sneak up on unsuspecting prey. A few minutes after this video Mena did catch a meadow vole:-). IMPORTANT REMINDERS: 1. When you visit we strongly advise wearing masks to show respect to our staff and interns who have done such a great job this summer. Their safety, and the animals’ safety is important to us. 2. Our outdoor trail closes at 4pm. We will be installing some simple barriers with signage in the near future. Once installed, violators will be reported. Our animals need down time and this helps keep their stress at minimum levels. Thank you for understanding. 3. Indoor exhibits and restrooms remain closed until further notice. 4. The WDC outdoor trail is open on Tuesdays/Fridays/Saturday’s/Sundays from 10-4.

Have a great day everyone!!

Laura Torelli is one of our all-star volunteers who used to be at the Shedd Aquarium and now a professional dog trainer....
08/17/2020

Laura Torelli is one of our all-star volunteers who used to be at the Shedd Aquarium and now a professional dog trainer. She’s teaching Spartan the Arctic Fox the “clownfish trick”. Kayla is one of our highly talented college interns assisting Laura and also educated our guests about our Aldabra tortoises. Great job Kayla!

We had an exciting week of Wildlife Science Camp that includes daily hikes, caring for our animals and we even had some ...
08/14/2020

We had an exciting week of Wildlife Science Camp that includes daily hikes, caring for our animals and we even had some special guests stop by to share their expertise. First up was “Alligator Bob” from the Chicago Herpetological Society who shared, what else, his alligators!:-). The kids loved it! And on our last day, former staff member Adeline Robinson Adeline Robinson Art stopped by to share her amazing talent for drawing and painting. She led an afternoon workshop in how to draw reptiles. Thanks Addy for sharing your passion! And our camp season is officially a wrap!!!!!! Big thanks to our WDC staff and college interns for leading the camp!

Recently, our staff and college interns spent a morning with our Parks Department cutting down invasive teasel to allow ...
08/11/2020

Recently, our staff and college interns spent a morning with our Parks Department cutting down invasive teasel to allow our native plants flourish next to the Middlefork Savanna. Great job folks! Hard to believe we’ll be saying goodbye to our amazing intern crew soon!

Our interns have had a busy week of fun!!   Big thanks to the crew at Lambs Farm for allowing our staff and interns enjo...
08/06/2020

Our interns have had a busy week of fun!! Big thanks to the crew at Lambs Farm for allowing our staff and interns enjoy a fun morning with your amazing animals!! Katie Donnellan is one of our volunteers and soon to be our Night Ranger, but she works full time at Lambs and helped put this together. Thank you!!!!

We also took a trip to the Phillips Park Zoo that we will mention in another post. Another amazing day. Our college interns have done such an outstanding job this summer and this is by far the best TEAM we’ve ever had since starting our college internship program. Everyone got along. Everyone pulled for each other. Everyone helped each other. And Everyone felt valued. This is how a successful team works. Thanks folks!!

We want to give a special shout out to Wildlife Discovery Center Animal Keepers and Animal Care Interns for volunteering at the Farmyard yesterday! 😀

The group had a full afternoon - they groomed Joseph the Dromedary Camel, trained goats, wrangled chickens, walked a piglet, learned about all 300+ animals and helped with evening chores. 🐪🐐🐔🐖

Farmyard staff had so much fun bonding over their love for animals and we can't thank them enough for their support! 💚

08/06/2020

“Shrimp” the Komodo Dragon was put back on exhibit today and she sure loved being back in her ol digs! We made a few modifications that should help continue to keep her in tip top shape as she recovers from surgery.

“Shrimp” the Komodo Dragon has made a marvelous recovery thanks to the amazing Dr Steve Barten at the Vernon Hills Anima...
08/04/2020

“Shrimp” the Komodo Dragon has made a marvelous recovery thanks to the amazing Dr Steve Barten at the Vernon Hills Animal Hospital among with the rest of the staff. Shrimp suffered a life threatening intestinal prolapse but has made an amazing recovery and today, she got her stitches out. We took the opportunity to run some radio graphs while she was sedated and she’s in tip top shape! The curator and his wife, Toni, used targeting to coax Shrimp into her transport and it went beautifully. Big thanks to our college interns who gave her exhibit a fresh look and she will be so happy going back in tomorrow!!

We hope everyone is having a great week!  It’s been very busy at the WDC!  We have Wildlife Camp and Zoo Camp in full sw...
07/24/2020

We hope everyone is having a great week! It’s been very busy at the WDC! We have Wildlife Camp and Zoo Camp in full swing led by Kev Hicks and Amelia Larsen in addition to Paulina Sobieralski. They are joined by some of our amazing college interns who’ve done a fabulous job for us this summer! The campers have done an amazing job social distancing and wearing their masks. We are super proud of them! If they can do it, so can the grown ups:-)

Yesterday was Flora’s 23rd birthday so she invited her tortoise friends and the campers made some amazing fruit cakes for all to enjoy! Finally, the Curator, assisted by Amelia, captured Casanova the American Alligator as he has outgrown the water depth and we moved him to our large indoor aquatic habitat and he’s loving the deeper water. Grug the Asian Water Monitor will be getting some great new digs soon!

Our college interns are doing a fabulous job.   As we move towards the end of the summer we provide amazing opportunitie...
07/21/2020

Our college interns are doing a fabulous job. As we move towards the end of the summer we provide amazing opportunities to work with all of our animals. Kelly Schaaf is training our interns on proper handling of our animals. This is Kayla who is studying Biology holding Cy the Barred Owl. Cy was very relaxed so that means Kayla did a great job!!

We’d like you to meet our new “Night Ranger” (now that’s a cool title!) Max Moulton.    Max was our former Director of t...
07/19/2020

We’d like you to meet our new “Night Ranger” (now that’s a cool title!) Max Moulton. Max was our former Director of the Wildlife Camp where he co-directed with Karsen Sample who is now at a veterinary clinic. The WDC’s outdoor exhibits close at 4pm so part of Max’s responsibilities include making sure that the public is not accessing the trails after we close so that the animals can have peace and quiet. Max is a super nice guy so he will be a great person to address concerns from the public. He will also be caring for animals, doing some light maintenance work, caring for our gardens and other fun assignments. He will be working evenings. Max is an education major at USC and will no doubt be an exceptional teacher. In fact, he will be teaching science for third graders as part of a special mentors hip program through USC. Great to have you back Max! WE WILL BE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO TAKE OVER FOR MAX WHEN HE LEAVES. If interested please message us here.

Address

1401 Middlefork Dr
Lake Forest, IL
60045

Opening Hours

Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday 09:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(847) 810-3663

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