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Wildlife Discovery Center

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Join us to view this award winning documentary/film from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology!
The event will be moderated by Bill Kurtis and Rob Carmichael (Curator, Wildlife Discovery Center). Tickets are $20 and include the movie, meeting some of WDC’s resident birds of prey, and a Q & A with Neil Rettig and Dr. Laura Johnson after the film. Profits will go toward Philippine Eagle conservation. 
6:00 pm - 6:50 pm:  Mingle with WDC’s Bird of Prey
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm:  “Bird of Prey” Movie
8:30 pm - 9:00 pm:  Q & A with Neil Rettig & Dr. Laura Johnson
"We just watched the clip three times...It literally dropped our jaws, took our breath away, and made our hearts soar...We are grateful for what you both have created. Cannot wait to share it together." - Bill Kurtis & Donna LaPietra
For questions, contact Rob Carmichael at
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- October.



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:

  • 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
  • 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
  • Wood Duck, Aix sponsa

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
  • bleach 
  • bath towels (gently used, no holes)
  • mops
  • cleaning supplies (simple green, scrubbers, scrapers, etc)
  • dawn dish soap
  • hand sanitizer
  • sponges



Full-time Staff:
Rob Carmichael
Lead Keeper/Supervisory Staff:
Zach Bulich
Lead Keeper/Supervisor
Ashley Palasics
Lead Keeper/Supervisor
Visitor Hours 
Indoor Exhibits
Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
(Closed on major holidays)
Outdoor Exhibits
Open Daily
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
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.

"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


Animal Educators:
Karsen Sample
Michael Penn
Theresa Greining
Zoe Panos  
Rebecca Tucker
Conor O'Kane
Ainsley Wiesner
Isabel Wiesner 
Lindley Wiesner
Roy Peterson
Steve Ballen
Kelly Schaaf
Amelia Larsen
Keegan Thoranin
Michele Riefenberg


College Intern:
Michael Palmer









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

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