Willowbrook Wildlife Center Celebrates 60

Brought in with a broken foot, a goose now has a second chance at life, thanks to the expertise of those at Willowbrook Wildlife Center – something they have been doing as part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for 60 years.

“It is actually a 50 acre preserve, that was donated with the idea that the family wanted it to be set like a bird refuge. Over time, it ends up being that someone doesn’t just bring you a bird, they bring you a raccoon, an opossum, or a bunny, and that’s how they decided that this is going to be wildlife rehabilitation as a whole, and not just birds,” said Manager of Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education at Willowbrook Wildlife Center, Sandy Fejt.

Willowbrook’s staff and over 120 volunteers seek to continue that work for many years to come.

“Our mission is to create a harmonious relationship between DuPage County residents and the wildlife around them. So what started out to be primarily a wildlife rehabilitation focus has really become an enhanced education focus now,” said Fejt.

And part of that education is helping people assist the wildlife around them.

“If you come across a wild animal that you’re not sure if it needs help or not, first step I would say is give us a call, because many cases they may be just fine, but then there are times where you might want to intervene, and we can help you make that judgment call,” said Naturalist at Willowbrook Wildlife Center, Stephanie Touzalin.

A service that hundreds to thousands of people utilize each year, helping save animals everyday.

“Last was a record-breaking year, we took in over 9,000 animals and this year we’re actually on track to beat that, we have more animals this year than we did last year at this time,” said Touzalin.

And while the staff takes care of each animal to the best of their ability while they’re here, the goal is always for them to be healthy enough to be released back into the wild.

Willowbrook Wildlife Center is open seven days a week and free to the public, but gladly accepts donations.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.

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