Sunday, April 24, 2011
Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek
The Lindsay Wildlife Museum is a true treasure of the East Bay. Not only is it a fun place to see some local wildlife with your family, but they also provide a wonderful public service through their attached wildlife rehabilitation hospital.
We have visited the Lindsay Wildlife Museum many times over the years. Even though not much changes from one visit to the next, the kids and I always have a great time. It is a small museum. You won't need a full day to explore everything, a couple of hours should be plenty of time. There are various live species of native wildlife on display: raptors, reptiles, mammals, and more. They also have some stuffed specimens of the larger animals, like mountain lions, bears, and deer, that would be impractical to house in a smaller place like this. They also have some common small pets, like hamsters, that occasionally come out for petting in a corner of the museum dedicated to educating kids about choosing and caring for a pet.
Some of the wild animals also come out of their enclosures and can be touched. While one is not available at all times, I don't think we've ever visited Lindsay Wildlife Museum when we didn't get to pet a snake or other wild creature at some point while we were there.
In addition to the wildlife displays, there is also a 'Discovery Room' aimed at younger children with wildlife-themed puzzles and toys available to play with. I've found this space to be often disorginized, but my kids have never seemed to mind the occasional missing puzzle piece, and always have a fun time.
Make sure to check the Wildlife Museum's website before planning your trip. Their open hours vary depending on the day of the week. They frequently host school groups, and offer their own classes, and may not open until later in the afternoon on some days.
My daughter took a drawing class recently at the museum, and produced some great drawings. We would love to take more classes, but the cost can be a bit much for us to go on a regular basis. However, I have several friends who have children that attended many of the different classes offered. All of them have only positive, rave reviews about their teaches and their classes.
The wildlife hospital is attached to the same building as the wildlife museum, but has a separate entrance and you cannot get to the hospital from the inside of the museum. The entrance is on the opposite side of the building than the main museum entrance. If you have an injured animal, you would want to drive past the main parking area, to the next driveway, and there you will find the entrance to the wildlife hospital. To my knowledge, tours are not permitted inside the hospital to allow the injured and recovering wildlife as much peace as possible. Teens over 18 years old can volunteer to work in the hospital if they have a passion for helping animals.
If you follow the pathway that runs in from the the wildlife museum, you will come to a playground. This is a fabulous place to have lunch if you want to make a whole day of your visit. Or, if you want to have your kids run a little energy off before they need to be calm and quite around the animals inside.