The Wildlife Learning Center is a quaint and quiet animal sanctuary nestled in an olive grove in the middle of Sylmar, CA. I first found the center about 7 years ago and immediately fell in love! Flash forward to today and we have done every animal experience, encounter, program, and event. On top of that we have had them come to our home for birthdays, been to other's homes for birthday parties, birthday parties at the center, educational assemblies at our school and even our public library. To say we immersed ourselves in all that is Wildlife Learning Center, would be a huge understatement.
Ok so now that I've got you pretty invested and wondering why I love this place so much, here's the 411 on this hidden gem. Wildlife Learning Center is an animal sanctuary that mainly focuses on public education where they tour schools in order to teach children to care and respect animals while developing a deep interest in the life sciences. Unlike a zoo, the animals that you will see in enclosures are there because they have to be. Animals that have been confiscated as illegal pets, abandoned, injured in the wild, or zoo surplus all come to live a forever life at WLC. Lola is a two-toed sloth who was kept as a pet in a bathtub, while her neighbor, a kinkajou, was found on a telephone line in the city. Chompers is a baby American alligator that was confiscated at an airport, while Zeus, a western screech owl, was found blind on someone's front porch. Almost every animal has a story, and as you walk the center, you can read up on their individual histories.
Wildlife Learning Center offers many interactive encounters, kids camps, family friendly events, adults only nights, and educational programs, all to help raise money in order to care for the animals living at WLC.
Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for kids 3 and up. Children 2 and under are free, and there are additional discounts for seniors, teachers and veterans.
There is a small parking lot on the premises including a few handicapped spots. If parking is full or unavailable in the lot, there is parking on the dirt in front of the fences to the center (just don't block the gates) and street parking along Yarnell St.
There is a small snack shop featuring candy, chips, soda and water. It's highly suggested to bring your own packed snacks and food and enjoy them in the covered pavilion where there is some picnic benches. If the pavilion is being used for an event or party, there are other tables near the entrance.
There is a small gift shop in the office with some very cute souvenirs. In the shop you'll find small plushes of many of the animals you will see at the center, sloth shirts, bags, pins and necklaces for those that call this slow and sleepy creature their spirit animal, and even photographs and symbolic adoption certificates can be found in the shop.
Here is a list of my favorite things to do when visiting.
1. Reptile Talk
Every hour on the hour starting at 11:00am and ending at 4:00pm, a Wildlife Biologist brings a reptile out, usually a snake or lizard, for guests to meet and touch. The talk usually lasts around 5-10 minutes and covers cool characteristics and adaptations regarding the reptile. Guests can then touch the animal and take pictures with it. The reptile talk is free with your paid admission.
2. Individual Animal Experience
Once you have arrived at the center, you have the option of booking an additional experience for your group. Experiences can only be booked day of when you arrive, and our private for your group. Groups range from 1-4, with additional costs for anyone else added. There are 8 different experiences to choose including: Tawny Owl Time, Picture with a Python, The Furrific Trio, Porcupine Dining Time, Armfulla-Dillo, Gator Get-Together, Giraffic Park and Sloth Social.
We have done all of them and highly recommend each and every one. My oldest son loves the Tawny Owl Time where he can hold an owl on his arm using a glove, and my youngest loves feeding the porcupines while they grunt and grab at tiny carrots from your hand. My favorite experiences are meeting the sloths and feeding the giraffe, both of which are unforgettable experiences.
3. Exploring the Center
At Wildlife Learning Center there are a few more things to check out while visiting. Here you can take pictures in a fun animal cutout board, explore items on the interactive touch table, and even take home and "adopt" a pet rock! Which we always take home and paint to put in our garden.
Wildlife Learning Center has many family friendly and adult only events that occur usually on a monthly basis. Keep an eye out on their calendar on their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates on what's happening next. Usually you'll find events like Sloth Yoga where yogis practice their poses while led by a certified instructor while a sloth stretches and sleeps right next to the class.
Another fun event is their Flashlight Safari where families can come tour the center after dark with a flashlight to guide them. Tours are held every 30 minutes and led by a staff biologist. In the dark the animals become more active and it's a fun time to see some of the animals that hide away in their den boxes during the day. The tour ends with a interactive animal talk where guests will meet 3 animal up close! Oh and did I mention free hot chocolate!
Some fun adult only events include their Wine and Paint classes and Wine and Wildlife events. During Wine and Wildlife, guests over 21 can enjoy complimentary wine and snacks while strolling the center, feeding porcupines, meeting exotic animals and even entering the sloth enclosure for a photo op.
Here are a few other programs at WLC
Keeper for a Day- A 4 hour interactive program where you can learn what it takes to be a wildlife biologist. You'll prepare diets, provide enrichment, clean enclosures, and more!
Adult Zoology Class- A 5 lesson series with hands-on animal interactions and education while being introduced to wildlife and zoo biology.
Photo Safari- A 2 hour safari where photographers, professional or amateur, will meet 10 animals, handheld, or on a leash, for unobstructed photography.
Summer Camp- A week long kids camp featuring lots of exciting animal interactions and fun activities that give your child an opportunity to be a real zookeeper!