There are few constants in life, but one of them seems to be the Groupon deal for the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar. I guess what they say is true – the more you see something, the more likely you are to check it out! Today we had nothing on the agenda so decided to take the bait and visit.
The Wildlife Learning Center is located in a residential neighborhood. However, once you enter you completely forget where you are. The facility has done a great job of creating a secluded area with lush plants creating a jungle like atmosphere (says the 4.5 year old). Follow the signs, pay your admission (or hand in your groupon) and get out to explore.
The Wildlife Center rescues animals as well as provides education (on and off site) about the more than 70 species they house. Even though the facility is small, it is a nice place for kids (and grownups) to check out. My son was enthralled even before leaving the admissions area. He loved his greeting by Merlin the colorful macaw and the hands on table where he was able to touch real fox and lynx fur. But, the real highlight of the hands-on learning area for him was picking up snake shed! Eww!
The center is organized as a small walking loop around the property. The big cats are first up – the lynx, bobcat and servals. We have been lucky enough to see a bobcat in real life in Yosemite and a serval at the San Diego Zoo, but this was our first time to see a real lynx. Of course being cats, they slept most of the time, but on our 3rd round we saw them up and about for a stretch. What beautiful creatures. My son had to pull me away from the servals!
Continuing on, my son’s favorite was the porcupine and mine, the bald eagles. I don’t know that I have ever seen a bald eagle up so close. They are massive! It was really a sight to see them right before my eyes. What beautiful majestic birds.
Heading around the bend is the 2 toed sloth which is a crowd pleaser here. She was out on a school tour when we arrived and hiding in her house recovering from her trip when we left. Next time we will have to pay extra for an up close encounter.
One of the major draws here are the individual animal experiences you can have with some of the animals. We didn’t choose to do one on our first visit, but it will be a great birthday or special event surprise in the future. Call in advance to make sure the animal you want to visit with is available.
Surprisingly, the wildlife center is not just for kids. For most of our visit my son was the only child there.
Keep an eye on the time for the hourly animal education sessions in front of the admissions office. This is where you can learn more about specific animals while also getting the opportunity to touch them. We were in the car, ready to leave when my son asked what time it was and realized it was only minutes away from the next show. Needless to say, it didn’t take much begging for me to let him go back in!
Overall, we spent about 2.5 hours at the center. I had feared after our first round that my son would be finished and that our 30 minute drive would have been for less than an hour visit. I was wrong. He wanted to go around again to read signs and take notes. And again to just see what the animals were up to. And then he it was time to have lunch with the macaws outside.
For $9 this was a great morning/afternoon adventure. It was quiet with very few other visitors which meant my son could stand around looking at the animals for as long as he wanted. Be warned, for kids with short attention spans or not super into animals, it could be a quick 30 minute visit.
Considering this is a non-profit center rescuing and rehabilitating injured animals, we felt bad about using the groupon. We will be back again and will pay full price next time (only a few dollars more than the groupon!) to help support their great work.
Check in on their website and instagram for special events. I am looking forward to checking out their two hour photo safari programs where photographers can get close unobstructed views of animals for great photo opportunities.
16027 Yarnell Street, Sylmar, CA 91342
Phone: (818) 362-8711
Open 7 days a week from 11 – 5
The facility looks stroller friendly, but I did notice a sign saying “Stroller Parking”, so I am not sure if you are allowed to use it throughout or not. Call in advance to make sure if you need to use it for your visit.
Bring a packed lunch and drinks as there is nothing on site to purchase. Enjoy your lunch at the picnic tables in the middle of the loop next to the macaws.
Be warned, the only restroom on the property is a port-a-potty. They try to keep it smelling nice, but it is what it is!