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.

The WDC had an amazing time at the Friends Lake Forest Park and Recreation Foundation’s annual “Festival and Fireworks” ...
07/05/2019

The WDC had an amazing time at the Friends Lake Forest Park and Recreation Foundation’s annual “Festival and Fireworks” featuring some fantastic music, lots of activities, an exceptional fireworks show and of course, the animals and staff/interns from the WDC! Huge props to all of the City Departments for their efforts in ensuring the safety and enjoyment of the large crowd.

We’d like to wish everyone a Happy and safe 4th of July.  As we celebrate Independence Day, make sure you take proper pr...
07/04/2019

We’d like to wish everyone a Happy and safe 4th of July. As we celebrate Independence Day, make sure you take proper precautions with your pets and make sure any sparklers, Fire crackers and any ash they produce are discarded properly as some can be highly toxic to pets. We expect hot temperatures today so keep your pets well hydrated and never leave them in the car even with windows open. The WDC is closed today, however, we will be packing up some animals and heading to the annual Festival and Fireworks hosted by the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation. Betsy the Bald Eagle is letting everyone know who’s the most patriotic creature at the WDC (Photo by Steve Ballen)!

Temperatures are really soaring and it’s very easy to grab a single use plastic water bottle sold by the tens of thousan...
07/02/2019
Half of dead baby turtles found by Australian scientists have stomachs full of plastic

Temperatures are really soaring and it’s very easy to grab a single use plastic water bottle sold by the tens of thousands at local grocery stores and slurp down some cold water. But that bottle, even if it goes into a recycle bin, will most likely find its way to a landfill instead. And from there, that plastic can make its way to a creek or river and eventually the ocean. The WDC wants to challenge everyone to find ways to reduce their need for plastic. Purchase a nice water bottle that can be used over and over. Same for a traveling coffee mug. Reduce water usage, use reusable grocery bags and produce bags, buy local and by making a few small changes, you will be saving wildlife and the planet. We can do it but it’ll take a collective effort! We will soon be selling some really nice reusable grocery bags, water bottles and mugs so stay tuned!

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/turtles-plastic-pollution-deaths-australia-microplastic-waste-a8536041.html

Study suggests younger reptiles are particularly vulnerable to pollution

06/29/2019
Camille and Kennerly - Harp Twins

We had a great time hosting the Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly, along with their family. We celebrated their grandma’s 90th birthday and we were honored that they chose the WDC to bring in such a special day! High 5 to Chef Katie in the Elawa kitchen for making a beautiful Happy Birthday cookie so we could all sing HPD to Grandma!

If you have never heard of them you should! Here’s a link to one of the curator’s favorite bands! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QHUPY6yN7_4 ! #wdc #harptwins

Sloth hugs are the best! 🤗🤗 The last time we saw Hazel at the Wildlife Discovery Center she was just a baby sloth! She’s gotten so big! 😍😍 #slothwisperer

06/24/2019
Pat Answers Fan Questions While Playing With Dangerous Animals

While Rob and Zach were leading the annual youth trek to Beaver Island, MI, the rest of the WDC staff and a few interns packed some animals and headed to WGN studios to do a fun segment with Pat Tomasulo’s “Man of the People” show. Great job! Here’s the link:
https://youtu.be/Ur8sR1tl7fw

Buzzfeed does a segment where celebrities answer fan questions while playing with puppies. We took that concept and switched out the animal to make it way be...

Such a beautiful day at the WDC!!  The grounds look great and the animals are all living this gorgeous summer-like weath...
06/23/2019

Such a beautiful day at the WDC!! The grounds look great and the animals are all living this gorgeous summer-like weather. Casanova the American Alligator has been sunning for hours:-). C’mon out and have a look!! High five to our Lake Forest Parks Dept for woodchipping our trail and also high five to our amazing college interns who wood chipped inside the animal run areas!

We always love sharing what our past WDC interns are up to today.  Here’s another success story!!  Way to go Claire!!!“P...
06/21/2019
Claire Snyder, assistant scientist, large river fisheries ecology

We always love sharing what our past WDC interns are up to today. Here’s another success story!! Way to go Claire!!!

“Please welcome to INHS Claire Snyder! Claire is an assistant scientist, large river fisheries ecology. She spent five years working at an environmental NGO in Chicago, advocating for the Chicago River by doing habitat restoration, education, and outdoor recreation programming. She has almost completed her master’s in zoology (fisheries) from Southern Illinois University, researching native fish passage through Brandon Road Lock and Dam. “

https://blogs.illinois.edu/view/8126/797314

blog postsClaire Snyder, assistant scientist, large river fisheries ecologyJun 12, 2019 12:45 pm by Tricia BarkerIllinois Natural History SurveyWomen in ScienceShare on FacebookTweetEmailImagesClaire Snyder joined the Illinois Natural History Survey in late May 2019 as an assistant scientist, large....

06/20/2019
Memphis Zoo

We are proud to say our resident Komodo Dragon, “Shrimp”, came from the Memphis Zoo via the San Antonio Zoo prior to her arrival in Elvis land. Here’s a snippet of the Curator’s good friend Chris Baker talking about Memphis Zoo’s highly successful Komodo Dragon breeding program. Stay tuned as we will soon be announcing the date of this summer’s Komodo Dragon Festival! All donations that day will benefit Komodo Dragon Conservation.
https://www.facebook.com/27671983814/posts/10157158940733815?s=1045772338&v=e&sfns=xmo

Happy Monday everyone, this week's keeper chat is about our Komodo Dragons. Memphis Zoo is proud to have one of the most successful dragon breeding programs, but don't read this, hear it straight from the expert. Take it away Chris.

Soon, we will be announcing an amazing event we are in the early stages of planning.  Neil Rettig, 7-time Emmy Award win...
06/18/2019
BIRD OF PREY

Soon, we will be announcing an amazing event we are in the early stages of planning. Neil Rettig, 7-time Emmy Award winning cinematographer, is a close friend of the curator's who have teamed up on a number of film projects. Neil and his wife Laura have been working on the conservation efforts of the Philippine Eagle; one of the most critically endangered birds of prey on earth with less than 1000 remaining in the wild. The movie "Bird of Prey" is now out and the only way to truly see this and feel this is by seeing it on the big screen and that's what we are going to do. This will be a magical night between seeing some of the WDC's resident raptors, seeing the movie and then having a Q & A time with Neil and Laura's adventures in the Philippines and the efforts that are underway to save this creature. All proceeds from this night will benefit the ongoing conservation efforts of this eagle. STAY TUNED!!! For now, here's the trailer that will get you excited about this project and event: http://birdofpreymovie.com/

World-renowned wildlife cinematographer, Neil Rettig, embarks on the most challenging assignment of his career: to find and film the rarest eagle on the planet.  An expertly woven tale with stunning cinematography, Bird of Prey journeys deep into the vanishing world of the Great Philippine Eagle ...

Happy Father’s Day everyone!   Whether you are one, are a father figure to someone, or have lost loved ones, this day is...
06/16/2019

Happy Father’s Day everyone! Whether you are one, are a father figure to someone, or have lost loved ones, this day is for you and we hope to see you visit today or in the near future. And even if you don’t have human kids but act as a role model or are a fur-father to a creature, high five to you too! A number of our animals are daddy’s too including Grug the Asian Water Monitor who has six kids of his own born at the WDC:-)

Greetings from the Central Michigan University Biological Station on Beaver Island, MI!  Our annual trek for boys and gi...
06/12/2019

Greetings from the Central Michigan University Biological Station on Beaver Island, MI! Our annual trek for boys and girls in grades 7-9 is a life changing experience. Over the past four days we’ve explored just about all of the island including kayaking one of the inland lakes and going on the CMU Chippewa research boat onto Lake Michigan where our students took turns operating an underwater drone to capture data for research. Of course, we caught snakes and lots of them including all seven species on the island! If your child is interested in going next year make sure you attend the Rec Center’s Camp Preview Day in the winter! Last night and then we’ll be making the long trek home tomorrow!

The Fred Jackson Classic Golf Tournament is hosted by Deerpath Golf Course and is one of several important fundraisers b...
06/08/2019

The Fred Jackson Classic Golf Tournament is hosted by Deerpath Golf Course and is one of several important fundraisers by the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation to raise funds for all of the amazing Parks and Recreation programs. They’ve funded an amazing club house at the half way area on the course and it’s AMAZING!!!!! Kudos to the Deerpath Golf Course Staff, the Friends Foundation, the staff from the Parks and Recreation Department, the WDC staff and interns and of course, the amazing animals in Holes 12 and 13 that wowed the golfers! Picture perfect day!!!!

06/07/2019

The WDC will be closed today due to the annual Fred Jackson Classic golf tournament at Deerpath Golf Course today. We apologize for the inconvenience. We will reopen tomorrow. Have a great day!

We’ve got a FANTASTIC group of college interns this summer and they are truly the lifeblood of the WDC as they bring so ...
06/04/2019

We’ve got a FANTASTIC group of college interns this summer and they are truly the lifeblood of the WDC as they bring so much positive energy to the farm. They’ve completed an extensive training program and now leading tours, teaching classes and helping in our upcoming camps. They also take care of our animals and help keep the exhibits looking their best. Last weekend we had a cookout to tell them what a great job they are doing. We had our first “Keeper Olympics” where they were put in teams and had to complete a number of challenging obstacles like a 50lb sand bag relay, getting two wet buckets unstuck, hooking a greased up piece of hose to mimic a deadly snake that they had to carefully balance on a hook and put into a snake bucket (the Curator still has it as he completed the task with ease:-), egg relay race, and the grand finale, gutting a rat:-). Everyone were winners!! When I’m visit please thank our college interns for their dedication and making the WDC such a great place to visit!!

We’ve had a number of calls from residents who allow their cats to roam outdoors that have caught baby bunnies and askin...
05/31/2019
Catios Can Be Built in Three Hours or Less, and Let Your Cats Enjoy the Outdoors Safely

We’ve had a number of calls from residents who allow their cats to roam outdoors that have caught baby bunnies and asking us to help. We can’t and most bites from domestic cats will be fatal to native wildlife. Please consider keeping them inside or if you want to give your cat some time outside, consider a “catio”! Great idea! Cats wreak havoc on native wildlife and they also face many perils such as being predated on by owls, fox and coyote. Cats also face other obstacles such as parasites, cars, and even rodenticide poisoning. Consider keeping them indoors.
https://www.fetchpetcare.com/blog/catios-can-built-three-hours-less-let-cats-enjoy-outdoors-safely/

Catios are enclosures or structures designed for a cat that secure to a household window or door and allows them to experience the outdoors while maintaining a safe environment. A major selling point of owning a catio would have to be it isn’t necessarily a product you have to purchase through a r...

05/30/2019
Quartz

When we exhibit an animal, not only do we want to share their story in terms of conservation, we also like sharing info about how these animals benefit humans. “Shrimp” is our resident Komodo Dragon and one of of our most popular animals. But who knew that dragon blood will soon save millions of human lives?! Thanks to the curator’s wife for sharing this!

Scientists just invented a new life-saving drug based on Komodo dragon blood.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!   Our sincerest thanks to all those who served in the military and sacrificed their lives s...
05/27/2019

Happy Memorial Day everyone! Our sincerest thanks to all those who served in the military and sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy our freedom. It’s something we should never take for granted. If you serve in the military, have served, or lost a loved one from service, thank you and we hope to see you come and visit. We will continue to be open Tuesdays/Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays from 10-4. Admission is free, donations much appreciated! This is a great shot taken by the Curator’s brother-in-law, David Kahn, who infused the American Flag onto an eagle he photographed.

Happy World Turtle Day!....sorry for the tardiness but the Curator was on his way back from the Tulsa Zoo (stay tuned:-)...
05/24/2019

Happy World Turtle Day!....sorry for the tardiness but the Curator was on his way back from the Tulsa Zoo (stay tuned:-). Let’s give a hive five to our shelled friends. The WDC is home to 15 species of turtles and tortoises. Globally, this group of animals are in big trouble but thanks to a number of international agencies and local nature centers like the WDC, we can all do our part and SO CAN YOU!!! By simply improving sustainable living (reducing plastics, water usage, going with more composting, and more) you can make a huge difference for turtles and all wildlife. If you see an injured turtle, safely pull over, and carefully put in a container and drive to our nature center. We will do the rest! If you see a turtle crossing the road, again, pullover and only when it’s safe, pick up the turtle (like holding a sandwich) and take to the side of the road in the direction it was going and take as far off the road as you can. Here’s our young Aldabra Tortoises (second largest tortoise on earth!) entertaining our visitors!

In case you need more reasons to love the family of crocodilians, and why they are represented at the WDC, is that that ...
05/21/2019

In case you need more reasons to love the family of crocodilians, and why they are represented at the WDC, is that that certain proteins in their blood will soon be used for HIV treatments and new antibiotics. Amazing!!! Hurray for Frodo the Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman and the rest of our toothy friends that make the WDC their home! This is why we host our annual CROCtoberfest ever year. Stay tuned for a new format this year!! https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/20390/20190421/crocodile-blood-could-be-the-new-source-for-antibiotics-and-hiv-cure.htm

We would like to say a very special and Happy Mother’s Day to all of our amazing moms.   Whether you are a mom, wanted t...
05/12/2019

We would like to say a very special and Happy Mother’s Day to all of our amazing moms. Whether you are a mom, wanted to be a mom but for various reasons you couldn’t, lost a child, or perhaps you are a mom to an animal or many animals, this day is for you and we can’t thank you enough for making this world a better place! We salute all of our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers! The WDC is open today and we will have a special tour by head animal keeper Zach Bulich at Noon. We will meet some of the mothers at the WDC! We will start the tour in the Main Exhibit Hall. You’ll meet Gia the Asian Water Monitor and one of her babies and much more! Here’s Gia being held by Lake Forest College intern Hannah.

It may be a little cool outside but the WDC will be heating up indoors with some fun and educational programs this weeke...
05/11/2019

It may be a little cool outside but the WDC will be heating up indoors with some fun and educational programs this weekend. Here’s our “Keeper led talk series”:
Saturday, May 11: Meet “Sweetie” the American Crow in the classroom at Noon. Volunteer Steve Ballen will talk about the training he’s doing with this special bird and you get to see her up close and personal. At 2pm, also in the classroom, we will have a meet n greet with our young Morelet’s Crocodile and meet some of our other crocs. We actually have 7 species of crocs here but most are off exhibit but stay tuned for when they make an appearance.
Sunday, May 12: Join Zach Bulich at Noon until 12:30 and meet all of the mother creatures who have produced young here! Meet in the Main Exhibit Hall.
Hope to see you here!!

We moved our copperhead (appears to be an integrade between a northern and southern copperhead) into his newly set up ex...
05/09/2019

We moved our copperhead (appears to be an integrade between a northern and southern copperhead) into his newly set up exhibit and seems to be enjoying it! Thanks to Head Keeper Zach Bulich for the fresh look. Big thanks to #Zilla for donating all of the supplies and landscape materials for this exhibit. This particular copperhead is quite a star appearing in two Nat Geo documentaries!

A public service announcement to help our turtles.  Our native turtles are all waking up from their long winter hibernat...
05/07/2019

A public service announcement to help our turtles. Our native turtles are all waking up from their long winter hibernation and now they are on the move looking for mates and nesting areas. Slow down, keep your eyes open and if you spot a turtle on the road, this poster made by Nadilyn Beato is awesome and has spot on advice!

The WDC will start advertising the days/times of animal feedings.  Today (Sat), we will be feeding Grug and Gia the Asia...
05/04/2019

The WDC will start advertising the days/times of animal feedings. Today (Sat), we will be feeding Grug and Gia the Asian Water Monitors at 11am and Boris the Bobcat at 1pm. Tomorrow (Sun, May 5) we will feed Shrimp the Komodo Dragon at Noon. We feed our carnivorous animals primarily humanely euthanized rodents and birds which are much healthier than processed food.

05/02/2019

When the classroom is open during our public drop-in hours, you’ve undoubtedly seen a large tank filled with ice cold water, rocks and aquatic plants and may have wondered, “what’s in that tank?” The Eastern Hellbender is a denizen of high quality, cold rocky creeks where they spend much of their time under rocks. The largest of all salamanders in North America, this species is now endangered throughout much of its range including Illinois. These predators will take fish, crayfish, various worms and anything live it can shove in its mouth. Our four Hellbenders came from the Fort Worth Zoo three years ago as small larvae and are putting on considerable growth. Every now and then one will come out and today was one of those rare days so we thought we would share. If you want to help these animals, reduce single use plastics, reduce water usage and live more sustainably.

Address

1401 Middlefork Dr
Lake Forest, IL
60045

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 16:00
Friday 10:00 - 16:00
Saturday 10:00 - 16:00
Sunday 10:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(847) 810-3663

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