Lindsay Wildlife Experience

In November, Trevor completed the planning phase of his Senior Project. Since then, he has been working on the doing phase. The visits we made to the World Center for Birds of Prey and Biodiversity Museum Day gave him the chance to learn a lot more about job opportunities in wildlife biology. He has conducted an interview with a wildlife forester and he spent a day shadowing a wildlife specialist at International Bird Rescue. Last week, we visited two more places that care for wildlife. Today I'm going to tell you about one of them: Lindsay Wildlife Experience

Located about 35 miles from us in Walnut Creek, Lindsay Wildlife Experience is a wildlife hospital, zoological organization, and educational museum specializing in native California wildlife. It first opened in 1955, but 1970 is the most important date in its history. That's when it opened the first wildlife hospital in the United States. The Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital is still among the largest wildlife hospitals in the US, caring for wild animals that have been injured or orphaned due to urban growth and loss of native habitat. 

The museum portion has excellent exhibits about raptors, bees, and underwater creatures, to name a few. 

This exhibit talks about domesticated animals. Informative displays help visitors understand about the different needs of wildlife compared to pets. It explains why pets do not belong in the wild. That tube going above Trevor's head connects two areas for pet rats to enjoy. 

The raptor area was particularly popular. It took some doing, but I eventually managed to get a photo without other people's kids in it. There were multiple preschoolers pretending to be eagles in the giant nest. Super cute. 

I love hands-on exhibits and this one was fantastic. You lay on your stomach with your arms stretched out. There are sensors in the wings. As you move your arms, you control the view on the screen, swooping and diving (or soaring in a straight line, if you keep your arms still) over the Bay Area. It was super cool. I waited my turn (amongst the preschoolers) to give it a try; Trevor was mortified. 

I mentioned that Lindsay has the first and longest-operating wildlife hospital in the United States. It accepts injured or orphaned wild animals from all across the Bay Area. Many of the success stories are displayed. We have a lot of Anna's Hummingbirds at our home in Fairfield, which is where this patient was injured and returned after four months of care. 

There are a lot of interesting exhibits around the hospital. The one on the left asks visitors to look through the microscope at samples taken from various animals, then match them to diagnose the illness or disease. That video screen was on a long loop, showing rehabilitated animals returned to the wild. We sat and watched the whole thing. 

Of course, the animals are the stars at Lindsay Wildlife Experience. There are four raptors in this photo. 

This bald eagle is named Atsa.

Lord Richard, the turkey vulture, was basking in the morning sun. 

Every hour or so, there is an educational program about one of the resident species. The first we saw was all about Penelope


She is a North American porcupine and is full-grown at 17 pounds. We learned that porcupines have approximately 30,000 quills. Their quills are the same as the hair on human heads, in that they can't throw their quills anymore than we can throw our hair. Baby porcupines are born with soft hair, which hardens into quills within hours of birth. As if their spiky quills aren't enough of a deterrent to predators, porcupines can also secrete a strong, unpleasant odor. Penelope didn't feel threatened by us, so we didn't smell a thing. 

Porcupines are herbivores. They are nocturnal, eating vegetation during the night, then climbing a tree to sleep during daylight. Their thick, beaver-like tail helps them climb up and down trees. 


The next presentation was about the desert millipede. He didn't show off his skills like Penelope did, but it was still fascinating to learn all about him. Fun fact: this particular middle-aged millipede has approximately 300 legs. Each body segment has 4 legs and millipedes get a new segment every time they shed. An especially long-lived millipede (they can live about 10 years) can indeed reach the 1000 legs in its name. 

Desert millipedes are decomposers, feeding on mostly dead plant materials. They are slow-moving and nocturnal. They help aerate the soil by hammering through compacted soil with their heads. Millipedes aren't especially dangerous to humans, but they can produce skin irritation if you touch them. 

Our third presentation of the day was about the Common Raven. I didn't get a picture of Hello, because we were way in the back and I would have just gotten photos of a bunch of preschool heads blocking a raven cage. Hello is named for his extreme interest in saying, "Hello." He uses 25+ different dialects or intonations to repeat the word. We heard two, each completely different. He imitated laughter and other bird calls during the presentation. What an interesting and intelligent bird! 

Finally, we met Rufous, the red-tailed hawk. He can't fly due to an injury, so he wasn't wearing a tether as he enjoyed the sunny day in the Nature Cove, under the close supervision of his handler. 


Lindsay Wildlife Experience has awesome trading cards featuring their animal ambassadors. You can't buy them - you have to get them from staff members, by completing their scavenger hunt, becoming a member, attending a special event, and more. We collected as many as we could during our visit!

Trevor and I had such a wonderful time at Lindsay Wildlife Experience. It's a great place for all ages to visit, and it was excellent for Trevor's Senior Project. He was able to talk with multiple staff members about jobs in wildlife biology. He also learned about their Animal Keeper internship opportunities and is considering that for the summer of 2025, after his freshman year of college. We are fortunate to have many wildlife facilities nearby, with lots of opportunities for volunteers and interns (18+, which is why he's not doing it now). Tomorrow I'll tell you about where we went the following day and what we learned there about careers in wildlife biology.

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