About Us

Wildlife Learning and Conservation Center (WLCC) is located in Sylmar, California, nestled in an old olive grove. WLCC was founded in 2007 to give a home and care to animals in need and to provide public education in the life sciences, conservation, and the environment. WLCC is dedicated to giving over 100 displaced, rescued, and zoo-born wild animals a home. WLCC also participates in species conservation efforts called Species Survival Plans (SSP), which are managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  SSP programs cooperatively manage threatened and endangered species within AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related Facilities, and Sustainability Partners. SSP’s preserve species from extinction by maintaining sustainable and genetically diverse populations of species.    As part of our conservation mission, Wildlife Learning Center is an active participant in the SSP programs for the two-toed sloth (Cholopous didactylus), 3-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus), and North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum).

WLCC is open to the public for general admission, private tours, and special events. WLCC offers life science outreach programs to schools, libraries, scout groups, and private events.

Mission Statement

Wildlife Learning and Conservation Center is dedicated to providing sanctuary for non-releasable wildlife and promoting conservation and appreciation of wildlife by engaging the public in educational experiences.

Announcement: Wildlife Learning Center Joins New Network To Help
Illegally Trafficked Animals


Wildlife Learning Center joined a new network to help illegally trafficked animals.  Our purpose is to help animals in need so it was without hesitation that we applied, and have been accepted to, the newly created Southern California Wildlife Confiscations Network, a first-of-its-kind program in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help illegally trafficked animals.

The purpose of the Network is to create a coalition of reputable and trusted animal care facilities that can provide immediate medical care and housing for wildlife smuggled through U.S. ports of entry. Service officials can call a HOTLINE, which will then connect them directly to expert facilities within the Network.

Wildlife trafficking is decimating endangered species around the globe, fueled in part by high demand for the exotic pet trade. Increasingly sophisticated and organized syndicates have turned the trade in illegal wildlife and wildlife products into a multi-billion-dollar transnational business, lagging only drugs, arms, and human trafficking in profitability.

Every year in the United States, law enforcement officials seize thousands of animals crossing U.S. borders in the illegal trade. These traumatized animals require immediate expert care in qualified facilities to survive this life-threatening ordeal.

Wildlife trafficking is a conservation crisis, with countless animals and plants are being pushed toward extinction from the illegal harvest of and trade in live plants and animals, and products made from them. 

● Wildlife trafficking is one of the largest illegal trades, after crimes such as drug and human trafficking, and is estimated to be worth between $7-23 billion per year. 

● Often the same criminals that engage in wildlife trafficking also engage in drug trafficking, human trafficking, and weapons smuggling. 

● Wildlife trafficking not only drives species towards extinction, but also poses risks to human health and welfare, creates conditions that enable disease spillover and pandemics, damages the global economy, and fuels transnational criminal networks, government instability, and corruption. 

Wildlife Trafficking (Online)

● Online wildlife trade has grown rapidly, spreading to the far corners of the globe, and is particularly pervasive in North America (specifically the U.S.), Europe, and Asia.

● The internet provides wildlife traffickers with access to a vast international marketplace—one without borders that is subject to minimal oversight and is open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. 

● Greater connectivity also creates opportunities for new markets to emerge, particularly for pet and collector markets, where niche collectors become aware of new species. 

● A 2021 study released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare found more than 200 online listings of protected species being offered for sale as pets.

Trade in Live Animals

● In addition to wildlife parts and products, live animals regularly enter global illegal trade, and their journey from the wild to the hands of a buyer can include extraordinary suffering; many trafficked animals die from the brutal conditions of capture and transport. 

● In a recent five-year period, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service had 834 cases of live wildlife that were refused clearance and seized or abandoned, which included 48,793 individual live animals that required care and placement. This number averages to 14 new cases per month and 27 individual live specimens per day. 

● A 2021 global law enforcement operation, code-named Thunder 2021, uncovered hundreds of live reptiles and birds and more than two dozen live big cats. 

● Wildlife trafficking places live plants and animals in extremely unsanitary, dangerous, and stressful conditions, making them more likely to acquire and shed pathogens, thereby spreading diseases. 

● Relatively small numbers of trafficked wildlife survive being ripped from their native habitats, restrained, denied food and water, exposed to novel pathogens, subjected to sometimes extreme temperatures and shipped to distant destinations. These few survivors are then sold to buyers who are often ill-equipped to meet even their most basic needs. 

Southern California Confiscations Network 

● When live wildlife is seized at U.S. ports of entry or exit, it is critical to provide the highest standard of care, as quickly as possible. 

● The Southern California Wildlife Confiscations Network is a pilot program to establish a framework that reduces wildlife trafficking and increases support for law enforcement by providing a coordinated system to ensure the care and welfare of confiscated live wildlife. The Network operates under the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and will work toward building a national network.



David Riherd