Injured or orphaned animals often find refuge at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. Visitors to the center can learn about wildlife, view animals in the permanent collection and take nature hikes, but much of what goes on is done away from the public eye.
Rescued animals native to northeast Illinois are brought in by members of the public, local municipalities or animal control officers. Squirrels, opossums, raccoons, water fowl, song birds, owls and hawks are among the most common animals rescued. The center does not take in any domesticated animals, such as cats and dogs. About 35-40 percent of the animals are rereleased to the wild. The months of mid-April through the end of October are the busiest for the center.
"This time of year we easily have between 300-400 animals in the rehab area." said wildlife specialist Rose Augustine, noting that it is because of a spike in births and bird migration. The center also has between 75 and 100 animals in its permanent collection.
Sixteen staff members work at Willowbrook, but the more than 75 volunteers do the majority of the work, according to Augustine. Feeding all the animals their species-specific diet is a big part of the work day, as is daily cleaning of the enclosures and observation of the animals. Animals soon to be rereleased into the wild are kept away from the public and monitored with minimal human contact.
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