Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Willowbrook Wildlife Center at Willowbrook Forest Preserve in Glen Ellyn is a native wildlife rehabilitation facility that provides care and medical treatment to injured and orphaned wild animals. It also serves as a resource to teach DuPage County's residents about living in harmony with local wildlife.

 

Wildlife Acceptance Policy

Willowbrook treats injured, ill and orphaned wildlife native to DuPage County, including eastern chipmunks, eastern cottontails, mink, muskrats, opossums, gray and fox squirrels, woodchucks, small rodents, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, weasels, songbirds, birds of prey, waterfowl, migratory birds, turtles, snakes, frogs, salamanders and toads.

We also help other agencies and rescuers find licensed rehabilitators for animals our center does not accept, including those found outside of DuPage County. We offer nest boxes for healthy squirrels and raccoons.

We accept native mammals and birds raised as pets and will attempt to reverse any taming. If efforts are unsuccessful, an appropriate permanent home cannot be found for the animal or it is unable to survive in the wild, it will be humanely euthanized.   

 

Driving Directions

The main entrance is at 525 South Park Blvd.

Education Programs 

Families, children, Scouts and youth groups can enjoy a variety of fun programs about birds of prey, mammals and insects throughout the year. Willowbrook also offers programs that meet state curriculum standards for grammar and high school classes.

 

Visitor Center

Our visitor center offers a closer view of native wild species. Windows look in the kitchen and nursery, where staff and volunteers prepare specialized diets and care for baby animals. The classroom and indoor discovery area have games, puzzles and other activities that give children a different way to explore. The center also provides restrooms and a drinking fountain. 

 

Outdoor Exhibits

Native wildlife with permanent disabilities are provided homes along Willowbrook’s outdoor exhibit trail. Residents include bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, owls, red foxes, groundhogs, raccoons and opossums. Willowbrook is also home to two state-threatened sandhill cranes. An enclosed wetland bird habitat along the nature trail houses the cranes and serves as a uniquie educational experience.

 

Butterfly Garden

Willowbrook’s butterfly garden showcases landscape ideas to attract butterflies and other wildlife species. Interpretive signs introduce necessary elements to provide suitable habitat including food, water and shelter. The area contains tagged plantings that are attractive to butterflies, and a sensory garden that abounds with sights, smells and textures. An educational display cabin features a butterfly life-cycle puzzle and play area and binoculars for a close-up view of nectaring butterflies and blooming plants.

 

Nature Trail

Our Nature Trail features a half-mile outer loop and a shorter inner loop through 40 acres of restored prairie, savanna, woodland and wetland habitats. The trail hosts native animals that live in DuPage forest preserves and an enclosed wetland habitat houses two state-threatened sandhill cranes.

 

History

Willowbrook is made up of more than 100 feet of deposits left behind when the Wisconsin Glacier melted. Those deposits, part of the Valparaiso Moraine, give the preserve its contours and contain a mix of rock from the bottom Lake Michigan, chunks of Canadian Shield granite and samples from all points in between. Ancient stone spear points found at the preserve indicate that early hunters traversed the land in search of game.

The first land survey done of Willowbrook in the 1830s indicates the preserve was prairie and used by farmers for agriculture. Eventually, the land was bought by Al and Audrie Chase, who used it as a weekend and summer retreat from work at the Chicago Tribune. Willowbrook was established in 1956 after Audrie Chase donated 45 acres of land to the District in the first land donation in the District’s history. The Chases asked that a portion of the land be preserved as a bird sanctuary and named Willow Brook.

In 1981, the District added a new education and treatment center and an outdoor exhibit area. In 1993, the site was officially renamed the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

Our Willowbrook Wildlife Center offers programs about native wildlife year-round. Sign up today!
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