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Wildlife Discovery Center

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 and the second weekend in October and the second Sunday of March.

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:

  • Adult programs
  • College student internships
  • 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:



"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.


Indoor Exhibits
Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

(Closed on major holidays)

Outdoor Exhibits
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

SPECIAL NOTE: During spring and fall, the WDC may be closed in the morning as we accommodate visiting school groups.

Field Trip/Event Closure Updates:

Friday 6/3: Closed all day due to Lake Forest Golf Event

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.


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



Rob Carmichael

Nick Hubeek
   Program Coordinator
Please contact Nick regarding any type of group program or class at 847-810-3662


Animal Keeper/Educators:

Zach Bulich
Casey Burke
Peter Crawford
Royce Gregory
Heather Gunn
KP Harrington
Nick Hubeek
Kali Cotteleer
Danielle Orsini 
Miles Padzensky
Zoe Panos
Kelly Page
Riley Parrott
Maggie Solum
Grace Wu
Volunteer/College Intern:

Steve Ballen
Steve K.

Alyssa T.

Alex M.

Emma S.

Anton Zoretic

Rebecca Nesnevich

Bryana Peters

Daniel Silver

Isabel Schwabe

Javier Martinez

Jessica Schumann

Michelle Ennis

Rachel Utt


Steve Ballen
Liza Ballen
Jim Bauer
Robin Colburn
Anneliese Crawford
Maxwell Gregory
Royce Gregory
Barry Hollingsworth
Lisa Nemacheck
Lynn Westley

 CLICK to stay Connected to the Wildlife Discovery Center.

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

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