The Wildlife Discovery Center is a living museum and biological station at historic Elawa Farm, situated alongside the Middlefork Savanna, a 670-acre wildlife habitat in Lake Forest. You will be captivated as you experience a close-up encounter with our crocodilians and other reptiles. Visit our raptors in their outdoor enclosures or in a flight session or watch our bobcat, Boris, as he explores his "natural" eco-habitat. The WDC is home to approximately 85 species of animals. During regular visiting hours, you can talk with our animal keepers and meet some of our amazing animals.

In addition to visiting our resident animals, you can enjoy a hike and nature observation on the adjacent Middlefork Trail, or visit the Elawa Farm Park where you and your family can enjoy a picnic in the pavilion, play soccer in the field, or have fun in the huge playground.

Our exhibits and programs provide an experience that will kindle a lifetime bond with nature. At the WDC, there is something for everyone!

  • Indoor and outdoor exhibits and an outdoor interpretive trail
  • College student internships and graduate-level research opportunities
  • Classes and summer camps for children ages 4 - 15.
  • After-school programs and tours for organized groups
  • School field trips and scout badges
  • Caretaker talks and feeding demonstrations and well as off-site talks and exhibits
  • Opportunities for supervised interaction with select animals
  • Nature-themed birthday parties for children


While there is no charge for individuals or groups of eight or fewer, donations are very much appreciated. We rely on the help of our visitors and supporters to maintain the high quality care we provide for our animals. We welcome groups of more than eight but request prior arrangements be made with the curator. Please contact Rob Carmichael for scheduling and fee information at 847.810.3663. All proceeds help provide for the care and feeding of our special animals.

support the wdc here


Help us save our owls by avoiding the use of dangerous rodenticides. The WDC can recommend safe alternative solutions for preventing and treating rodent infestations.

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  • Amelia Larsen, Assistant Curator/Manager
  • Kevin Hicks, Animal Keeper/Educator
  • Nick Gomulka, Animal Keeper
  • Paulina Sobieralski, Animal Keeper
  • Peter Crawford, Animal Keeper
  • Max Moulton, Assistant Camp Director/Trail Ranger
  • Kelly Schaaf
  • Tracey Kihnke
  • Steve Ballen
  • Lalainya Goldsberry
  • Matt Reid
  • Laura Torelli
  • Maggie Fahner
  • Mina Min
  • Naomi Roots
  • Katie Donnellan
  • Kristen Rozalewicz
  • Theresa Greinig (Contractual Staff)