If your child loves nature, animals, and in particular reptiles, then allow me to introduce your new favorite and FREE family destination. The Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest is an amazing opportunity for your child to get up close and personal to snakes, salamanders, turtles, lizards, and all their slithery brethren – even crocodiles! Besides our scaly and slimy friends, the WDC also houses birds of prey and a bobcat in outdoor enclosures.
Wildlife Discovery Center, Lake Forest
The center is a small facility, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in expertise and an interesting array of reptiles and amphibians. The staff is superb! We visited with friends (4 kids, 3 and under), and while there was another preschool group there, we felt like we were given the royal treatment. The staff is well-versed in all the animals and shows a true passion for their work, which they are eager to share with kids and adults alike. Most of the animals on exhibit can be touched if you ask, with the obvious exception of alligators, venomous snakes, or similar. The staff really took the time to make the experience special and were especially patient with our rambunctious toddlers.
The location of the WDC is simply breathtaking. Making its home inside the historic buildings of Elawa Farm, which is itself located inside the Middlefork Savanna, the prairie views and walking trails allow you to truly immerse yourself in nature. Don’t let the winter snow stop you – while the indoor exhibits are kept nice and toasty, you can see the raptor exhibits outdoors year-round or grab a pair of snowshoes to trek through the savanna.
The WDC’s mission is “to inspire new generations to become guardians and advocates of our natural world.” Suffice it to say, they are doing an excellent job, one child at a time.
Educational programs are available when you register through the Lake Forest Parks & Recreation Department. Unique birthday parties are also offered or the WDC can travel to your special event. Thanks to a generous private donor, admission is FREE, but donations are accepted.
Have you been to the Wildlife Discover Center? What’s your favorite part?
When Loralie isn’t out exploring with her two pint-sized adventurers you’ll often find her in front of her computer plotting to take over the world (or at least Lake County.) She appreciates good friends, good food, expensive shoes and parents who make two lanes in the drop-off/pick-up line at school. Her spirit animal is The Hobbit. She invites you to join her on her quest for unique distractions, diversions and deliciousness in this county we call home.