Wildlife Discovery Center, Lake Forest

#2 of 6 in Things to do in Lake Forest
Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
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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.
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Wildlife Discovery Center reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
45 reviews
  • This living natural history museum is following government guidelines and is closed until April 30. Check the Lake Forest Parks and Recreation page for updates. Meanwhile, after the closing on...  more »
  • See my earlier spring and fall reviews (October 14, 2013; September 2, 2016; June 2, 2018; and June 4, 2019) for more details. The special bonus of visiting the Wildlife Discovery Center in a cold.....  more »
  • Always a great time! It is free, but they appreciate donations for supplies like paper towels, sponges, and bleach; so remember to bring some to help them care for their animals. Their animal keepers are supper nice and informative. All their animals are spectacular. Gotta love those herps!! :)
  • Cute little wildlife center. We got to see someone playing with a bobcat that use to be a pet. Staff had several little snakes out and let the kids touch them, gently. They had a huge Burmese python, lots of turtles and some tortoises too. Rumor has it they have sloths but they aren't on exhibit. There is also a little park nearby that was fun for the kids to run around on. Overall a cute and unique place to visit, and it's free!
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