American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wildlife Discovery Center

After talking with "Mr. Edventure" at the local outdoor store the other night the kids and I decided to take a trip to the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Ed mentioned that he worked with alligators and caiman locally and so we had to take a trip to find out more. I made a call to Rob, the Center's Curator, and confirmed hours and directions and then loaded up the kids for a quick bite of lunch and a trip to see the reptiles.

We arrived just in time to see Ed heading out the door and he introduced us to Bryan Suson, the Head Animal Keeper, who showed us around, introduced us to Shelly the Gopher Tortoise, and generally entertained my endless inaccurate observations on reptiles, turtles versus tortoises, etc.

Check Jake's expression in the glass at the left edge of the image. Priceless!

He'd just realized that there was a caiman in the water right at his eye level when I snapped the picture.

Once the kids had a chance to pet Shelly, a Rhinoceros Iguana, and a very large albino Burmese Python, Bryan invited us to visit the venomous snake room which was normally off limits to guests. We, of course, couldn't wait to see what was behind that closed door. After a quick primer on the rules of the venomous snake room the kids walked through the door .

We saw the Eastern Massasauga, Lake County's only venomous snake. Of course there was a cobra, a puff adder, several species of rattlesnake, and this guy hiding in the corner. That's an Eastern Screech Owl named Squirt.

We spent quite a while there and then Bryan led us outside to the bird rescue cages where we spent some time watching a Red Tailed Hawk named Curly and a Harris Hawk named Navajo. Navajo was just finishing up a bit of what looked to be rabbit or rat (hard to tell at that point really) and Curly put on quite a show for Laura as he fluffed up his feathers, spread his wings, and danced across a beam from the back of the cage to the front.

Both kids got a real thrill from the visit and I plan on visiting again soon. I've lived here for almost 10 years now and never had a clue that this place existed until a chance encounter last night at the local outdoor store. I suspect you'll be hearing more about this place in the future.

Before I go, I want to show you a picture of two Leaf Tailed Geckos that I just couldn't see until Bryan pointed them out. Mother Nature sure gave some of her creatures some absolutely amazing camouflage.

Thanks for reading,



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