After 25 Years, the Sun Sets on The Wildlife Discovery Center: Thank You, Rob Carmichael!

Fri January 20, 2023

Curator Rob Carmichael has been the cornerstone of the Wildlife Discovery Center since he dreamed it into existence from just two snakes in one room at the Recreation Center. For 25 years, Rob has shared his passion for wildlife with the Lake Forest community through the Wildlife Discovery Center.

After a long and successful career, Rob plans to retire out of state later this springAfter thoughtful deliberations about its future, the Wildlife Discovery Center is beginning to relocate animals to other outstanding facilities in preparation for officially closing in March.

"We are so grateful to Rob for dedicating his career to the Wildlife Discovery Center," said Parks and Recreation Director Sally Swarthout. "Rob brought his vision to life in a way we never could have imagined. While we're happy for Rob to embark on his next adventure with his family, we will miss him dearly." 

If you know Rob, you know he's the heart and soul of the Wildlife Discovery Center. While the Wildlife Discovery Center is a City of Lake Forest program, operations are almost entirely funded by private donations. Financial considerations and the long-term sustainability of the program drove the City to the decision to close the Wildlife Discovery Center.

"As the sun sets on the Wildlife Discovery Center, please take time to discover nature, wildlife, and everything it offers," said Rob. "I'm excited to spend the next few months celebrating the memories we've made together."

The animals will be relocated to various conservation and rehabilitation facilities around the country where they will continue to receive the best care. Several animals, including Betsy the Bald Eagle, Met and Mena the Coyotes, and Jax and Spartan the foxes will be staying nearby at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington, IL. Rob and the Wildlife Discovery Center have educated and delighted the community with a fantastic array of animals, from Alligators to Zebra-Tailed Lizards. We are grateful for the animal lovers that have come to visit and learn at the Wildlife Discovery Center. As the doors close to the Wildlife Discovery Center, it presents a unique opportunity to imagine what comes next.

We understand you may have questions about this news - we've prepared Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) here that address some common questions.

The Wildlife Discovery Center will remain open over the next few months, although some exhibits will begin to close when animals are moved to new locations. Planning is underway for special events and activities to celebrate Rob and the legacy of the Wildlife Discovery Center.

Media Inquires:

Dana Olson

Communications Manager, The City of Lake Forest

Office: (847) 810-3672 |