Take a walk on the wild side

Wild animals in need of a helping hand find a home at Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

The last big storm in the Chicago area did more than wreak havoc on people’s homes, it wrecked hundreds of squirrel homes. To save the more than 70 baby squirrels that suddenly found themselves homeless, Willowbrook Wildlife Center’s staff spent days hand feeding each of the palm-sized creatures.

The center is the only place in the area that rehabilitates native wildlife. It also gives kids the chance to get an up-close look at the animals they may see scurrying around outside their home.

During the active spring and summer months, the center will treat and release up to 1,000 animals. Those that can’t be released back into the wild are kept at the center where visitors can see them and find out about what kind of animal they are and how they were injured.

“A good reason to come here is for education, to see the animals that are found around here and learn about the disabilities,” says naturalist Wendy Tresouthick. The center has a pet corner where kids can see doves, rabbits and rats."This gives kids the opportunity to cuddle and pet, because they can’t touch the disabled animals.”

Younger children can spend time tucked inside the reading tree or playing on the puppet stages. And when the kids are ready to burn off some energy, hit the trail behind the nature center to search for the beaver dam and other wildlife.

The Willowbrook Wildlife Center is located at 525 S. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn. For more information call (630) 942-6200 or visit www.willowbrookwildlife.org.

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