At the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center even the smallest creatures have big wishes for the holidays. Turtle food, chew toys and gift cards for their favorite treats are on the list with Christmas for the Critters.
The animal care staff have created wish lists for its resident animals, including the Blanding turtles, the Bearded Dragon and a red-knee tarantula. These wishes are on the ornaments in the Giving Tree located inside Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, 3795 Campton Hills Road on the west side of St. Charles. Visitors can select an ornament featuring an animal’s wish and help fulfill the item.
“We’ve done Christmas for the Critters in the past and it was very popular,” explained Nature Programs Supervisor Emily Shanahan of the St. Charles Park District.
The resident animals at the nature center are a favorite part of a visit. From watching the turtles paddling around their pond to hoping to see a snake slithering thru its habitat.
Star, the resident rabbit, would love some new rabbit chew toys, or her favorite kibble, Timothy Pellets, Shanahan said. Paul the Ball python’s favorite treat is rats. His holiday wish is a gift card to Rodent Pro, to purchase some frozen rats.
“The kids love this program, it’s a great family activity,” Shanahan said.
While the idea of purchasing a holiday gift for the animals is a bit whimsical, the gifts can also help defray care costs for the animals. The animals at the Discovery Center are often called ambassadors, as their role is to help visitors learn more about the animals. Most of the animals are considered native to the area.
Visitors can get to know the residents better through the program, Hanging with Hickory Friends every day at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Staff help visitors get a closer look, ask questions and learn more about the animals.
The nature center is a great place to visit during the weekends or a school break with plenty to explore indoors as well as the outdoor hiking trails and a nature playground. No School Nature Days for children ages 5-12 years old are the perfect way to fill a day with crafts, games, science and much more.
Upcoming holiday events are always a favorite at Hickory Knolls. Woodland Santa’s Holiday Workshop is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3 from 10-11:30 a.m. The event features Santa’s arrival by a sled that’s pulled by husky dogs, a chance to take photos with Santa and making take-home holiday crafts. The event requires pre-registration, and the cost is $12 per person.
The Flashlight Candy Cane Hike will be held on Friday, Dec. 15. Register to take part in the guided walk through the adjacent woods before coming inside to warm up and enjoy refreshments. This event takes place from 4:30-7:30 p.m. and advance registration is required. The cost is $12 per person.
From celebrating critters of all sizes to crafts and spending time with nature, a visit to Hickory Knolls Discovery Center is a great stop for all ages.