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Wildlife Discovery Center

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A place where you can be with nature



Global focus. Intimate setting.

The Wildlife Discovery Center (WDC) is a living natural history museum and one of the region’s unique hidden gems. It is a place of learning and wonder, where people of all ages can explore the important concepts of wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship in an intimate setting. The learning journey brings visitors face-to-face with a variety of reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. There are also interpretive trails and nature-based programs for all to enjoy. 

Open Hours:  Tues/Fri/Sat/Sun from 10:00 am -4:00 pm.  Closed on major holidays.  Closed on occasion for school and camp field trips during the months of April- July.

The WDC's Main Exhibit Hall will be closed until Noon today (July 7, 2017)as we are wrapping up an important film with National Geographic and Emmy Award winning film maker Neil Rettig.  Our Alligator Snapping Turtle is being featured!  We are also doing a number of offsite scenes as well. Stay tuned!


To motivate all generations to come to know, respect and protect our challenged and often endangered ecosystems with a focus on their wildlife.

Something for Everyone
We offer programs that spark a lifetime curiosity about nature, including:

  • Graduate level research opportunities
  • Pre-school classes
  • After school programming
  • School field trips
  • Scout and youth group programs
  • Animal keeper talks and feeding demonstrations
  • Library programs
  • Special events
  • Group tours
  • Traveling wildlife exhibits
  • Public outreach programs
  • Summer camps
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Outdoor interpretive trail
  • Nature-based birthday parties
  • Public viewing of live animal exhibits

The WDC is working on a number of conservation and research efforts to save several species. These include:

  • American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus
  • Blandings Turtle, Emydoidea blandingii
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus adamanteus
  • Eastern Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis
  • Eastern Indigo Snake, Drymarchon couperi
  • Orinoco Crocodile, Crocodylus intermedius
  • Ridgenosed Rattlesnake, Crotalus willardi
  • Siamese Crocodile, Crocodylus siamensis
  • Western Fox Snake, Elaphe vulpine

To support these conservation efforts, the WDC is working in partnership with the following organizations:

We are always happy to accept donations of the following items:

paper towels


bath towels (gently used, no holes)




cleaning supplies




hand sanitizer




Rob Carmichael
Kali Cotteleer
Program Coordinator
Please contact Kali regarding any type of tours, group programs or classes.
Visitor Hours 
Indoor Exhibits
Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Outdoor Exhibits
Open Daily
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
WDC will be closed July 11th 
WDC will open at 12pm at July 14th
Admission to the WDC is FREE. Please note, free admission is only for individuals and related families of 8 or less. Larger groups (schools, organizations, Scouts, tours, etc.) must set up a program prior to arrival and pay a fee that will be quoted by the WDC Curator. E-mail our Program Coordinator to set up your program. Visitor donations are encouraged and appreciated, and support the high-quality care we give our animals.
Special Note: The WDC indoor exhibits may be closed periodically as we accommodate visiting school groups.  Outdoor exhibits will still be open. Closed on major holidays.
Field Trip/Event Closure Updates:

"Your facility is one of the best I have seen in the world! Looking forward to being back." 

-Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry

One of the world's foremost authorities on venom research, Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia, featured on National Geographic.


The WDC is located at historic Elawa Farm along the 670-acre Middlefork Savanna, a globally threatened ecosystem in Lake Forest, Illinois.

1401 Middlefork Drive
Lake Forest, IL 60045


Primary Staff:
(Animal Keeper/Educators)
Danielle Orsini
Javier Martinez
Kali Cotteleer
Riley Parrott
Steve Ballen
Animal Educators:
Grace Nowesnick
Karsen Sample
Michael Penn
Peter Crawford
Russell Friedman
Steven Kush
Theresa Grening
Zoe Panos
Volunteer/College Intern:

Ainsley Wiesner

Alex Myers

Emma Pigg

Isabel Wiesner

Lindley Wiesner

Max Moulton

Sam Doig







220 E. Deerpath, Lake Forest, IL 60045
(847) 234-2600
Non-Emergency Police:  (847) 234-2601

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