Wildlife Learning Center

Hard off the 210 freeway in Sylmar lies a small gem of an animal refuge called the Wildlife Learning Center. During their 2014 fund raising efforts, my lovely sister purchased for me, at a silent auction, a special one-on-one photographic tour there. It was a delightful gift; I had never heard of the place so I'm glad my sister was hip to it. If you live in the vicinity of Los angeles, you really should take the time to visit.

The WLC isn't a zoo or a curated collection of animals, it's a rescue center, so their assortment of creatures is a bit serendipitous... the animals here have literally been rescued from grim circumstances and given refuge. So alongside a fascinating two-toed sloth and a group of adorable fennec foxes, you'll find a moist little alligator and a couple of striking bald eagles.

I've processed a few images from the visit and put them below, but these are not all the animals you'll find there. There are probably a couple dozen other interesting species which you'll get a chance to visit with up close.

Our time at WLC was made comfortable and engaging by friendly and knowledgeable staff who bent over backwards to make sure we learned lot, got good pictures, and had a great time. Truly, if you like animals, you should visit. Since The Wildlife Learning Center is a non-profit with enormous expenses (I heard somewhere it costs $1,000 a day to keep these animals safe and fed), they provide a lot of opportunities to help them out with donations. Amazon Smile is one way (I added WLC as my Amazon Smile selection), and special events and private tours like the one I got are another.

If you have any questions, I've linked to their website above; check them out! Or feel free to drop me a line in the comments section or e-mail me eric@mojavemorning.com

On to the pictures!

A bald eagle. I resisted the temptation to add blue to the red and white.

A bald eagle. I resisted the temptation to add blue to the red and white.

Zeus is a blind screech owl. From the WLC website: "Specifically, Zeus was diagnosed with conjunctivitis, corneal degeneration, endotheliopathy, anterior uveitis, most likely caused by a traumatic event like flying into something or being attacked by a predator." Less specifically, it looks like his eyes are filled with stars.

Zeus is a blind screech owl. From the WLC website: "Specifically, Zeus was diagnosed with conjunctivitis, corneal degeneration, endotheliopathy, anterior uveitis, most likely caused by a traumatic event like flying into something or being attacked by a predator." Less specifically, it looks like his eyes are filled with stars.

Did you know screech owls are cute as buttons? Not so cute to field mice, I'm sure. The speckles in his eyes are not reflections of something outside, this is how his eyes appear, and part of the symptoms of his blindness.

Did you know screech owls are cute as buttons? Not so cute to field mice, I'm sure. The speckles in his eyes are not reflections of something outside, this is how his eyes appear, and part of the symptoms of his blindness.

Lola hanging around. She was actually pretty active for a sloth. I had to keep the aperture all the way open to completely freeze action in the dark open shade where we visited together.

Lola hanging around. She was actually pretty active for a sloth. I had to keep the aperture all the way open to completely freeze action in the dark open shade where we visited together.

My approach when photographing captive wild animals is usually to isolate the animal as completely as possible from the environment. The context is not the interesting part of the scene unless the story being told is about the captivity itself. Plus, I keep all my photos as simple as possible anyway. Complicated pictures don't grab.

My approach when photographing captive wild animals is usually to isolate the animal as completely as possible from the environment. The context is not the interesting part of the scene unless the story being told is about the captivity itself. Plus, I keep all my photos as simple as possible anyway. Complicated pictures don't grab.

A fennec fox. Normally adorable, I caught him in a tense moment.

A fennec fox. Normally adorable, I caught him in a tense moment.

A heart-melting porcupine.

A heart-melting porcupine.

Arctic fox. Rescued from a fur farm.

Arctic fox. Rescued from a fur farm.

Nom nom nom