As part of the second phase of Willowbrook Wildlife Center’s 2011 master plan, the project will construct a 27,000-square-foot new wildlife rehabilitation clinic and visitor center. The new facility is being built as the District's first net-zero designed building, which means the energy produced from renewable resources exceeds the energy consumed by the building.
Plans also include new outdoor and indoor animal rehabilitation areas, interactive educational exhibits on the wildlife rehabilitation process, an outdoor classroom, an interpretive trail with wildlife observation areas, and outdoor activity spaces that demonstrate how to attract and live in harmony with native wildlife.
On April 19, 2022 the District's board of commissioners will vote on a guaranteed maximum-price contract with Wight & Company to design and build a 27,000-square-foot wildlife rehabilitation clinic and visitor center that would replace the 42-year-old building.
The new clinic and visitor center are expected open to the public in 2024, and the entire project is expect to be done by 2025. Wildlife rehabilitation will continue uninterrupted throughout construction.
Cost and Funding
On April 19, 2022, the Forest Preserve District board of commissioners will vote on a $25.5 million guaranteed maximum-price contract with firm Wight & Company to design and construct the new facility.
In November 2021, the Forest Preserve District board of commissioners approved issuing general obligation limited-tax bonds to support District master plan projects. Approximately $22 million from the bond sale will pay for the Willowbrook project.
As of April 2022, the District has also secured $3.7 million in private donations to support the project. Additional opportunities to contribute are available through the Friends of the Forest Preserve District.
The District has sufficient bonding capacity to issue debt and fund this project without causing a net increase in property taxes for DuPage residents.
Operated by the DuPage Forest Preserve District since 1956, all of Willowbrook’s operating expenses are funded by the Forest Preserve District, grants and private donations. The center does not receive state or federal funding.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center is a nationally recognized wildlife rehabilitation center that provides care and medical treatment to approximately 10,000 sick, injured, and orphaned native wildlife each year.
Willowbrook also supports the District's threatened and endangered species captive-rearing program. The center is also an environmental and educational resource for the public.
Improvements are needed so the center can remain a national leader in engaging visitors in veterinary science, medical care and wildlife rehabilitation while championing healthy interconnected ecosystems to foster safe, healthy and sustainable communities for all living things in DuPage County and beyond.
The District has developed the following vision and goals in an effort to reimagine Willowbrook for the future by applying what has been learned over the past 65 years; incorporating new guidelines and best practices for wildlife rehabilitation; taking into consideration public concerns and community needs; and making an effort to remain true to the District’s and Willowbrook’s missions.
Links to Additional Information
Willowbrook Master Plan
4/13/22 Press Release
Willowbrook Master Plan Improvement Project FAQs
In 2011 the District adopted a new master plan for Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Public input was previously solicited for the master plan through a public open house and survey.
In addition, the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) have made some significant changes in wildlife rehabilitation guidelines for housing and exhibiting wildlife that impact how Willowbrook will operate in the future.
Willowbrook will still provide a variety of opportunities for the public to learn about wildlife rehabilitation and the District’s captive-rearing programs for endangered species. In addition, the public will also have opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitats in a way that is less stressful and harmful to the animals.
The District began implementing Willowbrook’s master plan in 2013. Over the last 8 years, a new parking lot that improves public access was built, a new species recovery building for wildlife rehabilitation was built, and a 72.2-kilowatt solar array was installed for sustainability. All of these projects address several goals and objectives identified in that master plan.
July 29, 2021 public information session on Willowbrook plans
Links to Documents
Willowbrook Master Plan
Results of Public Feedback on Plan
Willowbrook Project Board Presentation 9/14/21
2021-08-17 Public Feedback on Plan
2021-08-17 Wight Co. presentation to Board
2011 Willowbrook Master Plan
Previous Willowbrook Master Public Input
Willowbrook Masterplan Phase II Improvements Design Program
Presentation to Board April 13, 2021
District’s Mission and Vision
District’s 2019 Master Plan
National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
International Wildlife Rehabilitators Council