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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- 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:

  • 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
  • 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



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
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


Primary Staff:
(Animal Keeper/Educators)
Danielle Orsini
Javier Martinez
Kali Cotteleer
Zach Bulich
Steve Ballen
Animal Educators:
Karsen Sample
Mandy Papke
Max Moulton
Michael Penn
Steven Kush
Theresa Grening
Zoe Panos

Ainsley Wiesner

Alex Myers

Emma Pigg

Jackson Czajka

Katie Cothran

Kira Surber

Isabel Wiesner

Lindley Wiesner

Lilli Pedersen

Patricia Umbricht

Roy Peterson


College Intern:

Anissa Loyola

Elizabeth Bertacchini

Leah Weiss








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

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