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On a sunny Saturday afternoon, my husband and I searched for a new place to discover in DuPage County. As new suburban homeowners, there is still so much for us to learn about our surroundings. One of the things that we’ve been most intrigued by is the superabundance and diversity of birds in our yard. Most of them we have been able to identify, but some of them are new to us. I knew I had to learn more, so I went searching for an animal sanctuary near me. More specifically, a native wildlife sanctuary near me.
Looking for a spot to grab high tea in DuPage County?
Willowbrook Wildlife Center is an animal sanctuary near me in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Part of the DuPage Forest Preserve, this is a native wildlife rehabilitation facility where people near and far can bring any native wildlife for tending. A few years ago, we found an orphaned baby raccoon in my mom’s backyard and my aunts ended up taking it to the wildlife center for care and eventual release back into the wildlife.
7 Reasons Why It’s Worth Visiting a Wildlife Sanctuary Near Me (Or You!)
1. A wildlife sanctuary or animal sanctuary does not permanently keep animals in the same way a zoo does. These are rehabilitation facilities meant to care for injured animals with the ultimate goal of release back into the wildlife. Captivity is only temporary.
2. A wildlife sanctuary is often much more affordable than a zoo. For reference, the nearest zoo to my home costs $21 per adult and $15 for children and/or seniors. Planning on driving? Parking will set you back another $14. A family of four outing to a zoo is over $80, before any snacks or souvenirs. That’s an expensive day out! Your local animal sanctuary is most likely much less money. The animal sanctuary near me, Willowbrook Wildlife Center, is open 7 days a week and has a suggested donation of just $1/person! And that’s not even a requirement!
3. Ever find a hurt or abandoned animal outside and just feel helpless? No longer! Animal sanctuaries and the wildlife sanctuary near me specifically, have a near open door policy on receiving native animals that are in need of care. Invasive or non-native animals are a different story, so I recommend calling ahead in those situations.
4. So many babies! Orphaned wildlife or animals that have fallen out of nests and trees are nearly constant in the late spring and early summer months. Other species, such as turtles, tend to hatch in the fall. When I visited the wildlife sanctuary near me, there were eight raccoon babies, two chickens, a few ferrets, and a possum.
5. There are opportunities for special seminars or workshops at animal sanctuaries, and many times they do not involve an additional fee. Willowbrook Wildlife Center had a reptile talk and a feeder bird talk the day I visited. I learned that blue jays mate for life, that brown-headed cowbirds make other birds watch their eggs, and that there are some poisonous snakes in downstate Illinois!
The animal sanctuary near me even offers paid, special hands on learning with its permanent resident animals. Most of these animals have hearing, vision, or limb damage and are unable to be released back into the wall. In order to tend to them while also learning from them, the sanctuary teaches visitors about their permanent resident. These $50, multi-hour sessions are held on weekends and great for families. Upcoming sessions feature the American Kestrel, the Bobcat, and the Woodchuck.
6. There are far fewer crowds at a wildlife sanctuary than other animal based attractions. Zoos and aquariums are very well known, while wildlife sanctuaries are much more under the radar. Wildlife sanctuaries aren’t zoos, but rather a safe haven for any errant critters.
7. The permanent animal residents at Willowbrook Wildlife Center are incredible. Each year, the Willowbrook Wildlife Center treats approximately 12,000 animals and about 2/3rds of them are released back into the wild. For the ones that survive but cannot be released back into the wild, the permanent residency program provides an option for survival, and for visitors to familiarize themselves with area birds of prey and critters.
Have you visited an animal sanctuary near you?
Some people prefer a day out with golf and spas, but personally, I like some mental stimulation. Have you visited an animal sanctuary near you> Let me know in the comments!
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