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Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center: Family Outing

Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center: Family Outing

How to spend the day at the recreational and educational facility in Holtsville

Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center is a recreational and educational facility that will encourage your kids to visit time and time again for its animals, educational services, and outdoor activities.

The center was formerly a landfill that had been heavily infested with garbage. After it was closed in 1974, The Highway Department of Brookhaven brought the hills back to life in an effort to rebuild and vegetate the land. Its efforts culminated in the revitalization of the grounds and led to the development of the Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center, offering year round fun and education for families.

Year-Round Activities at Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center

The Animal Preserve

The Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center is home to at least 100 injured or non-releasable animals and farm animals that are placed in safe habitats. The public is free to view the animals in their habitats throughout the year. The preserve is handicap accessible, and there are feed machines in goat areas, at which children can purchase a handful of feed for 25 cents to feed the goats.

black bears brookhaven
Courtesy Kristen D’Andrea
Pooh and Honey (in the background) are black bears that live at Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center's Animal Preserve.

Animal species at the preserve include American bald eagle, bobcat, Canadian geese, emu, great horned owl, black bears, iguana, llama, peacock, and white-tailed deer.


Tours are provided to both adults and children on weekdays, when scheduling in advance is necessary.

Take part in the regular tour during which you will be guided and introduced to all of the animals. You will also hear the history of the ecology site during this 1½-hour tour. The current rate is $5 per person for children in first grade and older.

Participate in groups of 10 or more in self-guided tours around the site. Informational booklets will be provided to help you along the way.

Visitors in group of six or more can take part in the Behind-the-Scenes Tour, a 1½-hour tour that follows one of the tour guides to see how the Animal Preserve operates and what it takes to care for the animals.

Greenhouses, Garden Parcels, and Adopt-A-Spot

These allow for residents to show their appreciation for wildlife through various means.

Greenhouses are available for the public’s viewing pleasure. Seasonal plants grown here are placed in town offices, park grounds, and civic and senior citizen groups; the public cannot purchase the plants.

Garden parcels offer 10-by-10 foot gardening areas in which Brookhaven residents can grow vegetables and flowers. Call to reserve spots in the parcels. Gardeners must bring their own seeds, garden tools, and garden hoses to the site. A spigot, however, is provided on-site for plant watering needs.

Adopt-A-Spot is a highway beautification program the ecology center offers in partnership with the Highway Department of Brookhaven to provide aesthetic improvement to a town location. Residents may sign up to offer plans to improve a specific location alongside the town’s roadway to help better the greater Brookhaven community.

Photo opportunities for special public occasions are also available. The photo op includes a picture in front of scenery such as gorgeous plantings, shrine-like areas, and island gardens. A fee must be paid for photos.

The Walking and Exercise Trail

The trail is 1.2 miles, and is perfect for year-round walking and jogging. There is also exercise equipment scattered throughout the trail, including pull-up bars, incline benches, and monkey bars.

Playground and Picnic Areas

The playground and picnic areas provide fun places for children and adults. It may cost to get in, but the grounds allow for plenty of outdoor enjoyment. The playground area has many attractions for the little ones including swings, slides, and mini incline walls to climb. There are plenty of benches available for adults to watch their children play, and bathrooms are available on-site.

The picnic area is available to the public daily throughout the year, complete with benches and tabletops. Picnickers have plenty of space, and the roof overhead provides the right amount of shade while still allowing parents to watch their children play in the nearby playground.

Safety Town

As a replica of a miniature village modeled on the Nassau County’s Safety Town at Eisenhower Park, it is complete with an educational facility at which children can learn pedestrian and bicycle safety. Children will be provided hands-on experience by taking bicycle and mini electric vehicle rides throughout the miniature village. With this course, which is expertly developed from analyzing 10 years’ worth of bicycle accidents in Nassau County, little graduates are more than 10 times less likely to be involved in bicycle related accidents.

brookhaven safety town
Courtesy Kristen D’Andrea

A student of the Safety Town program traverses the driving course in an electric kart while texting to experience the dangers of distracted driving.

Teens can also participate in lessons regarding distracted driving, during which students drive around in electric vehicles. The students attempt a drive through the course while wearing beer goggles, and another attempt is made while texting and driving at the same time. The program is held year round (weather permitting), for the duration of the school year. Registration is every June.


Free Compost and Wood Chips

Available to all residents in Brookhaven, the compost and wood chips very useful in gardens. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own buckets and shovels to gather compost from the compost receptacles on-site, with a limit of four garbage cans total for leaf compost and wood chips. The grounds are open daily, 8am-4pm.

Residents can also feel free to recycle cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans at the Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center. This compost is not for gathering.

Annual Events at Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center

Educational Programs are held in September and October on scheduled days in six-week sessions. The Adult Horticulture Classes feature activities such as starting plants through propagation, backyard flower arranging, fall gardening technique development, and unique garden craft creating.

The Fall Pee Wee Gardening Classes are held on singular days in September and October for children ages 3-5. These classes will help children learn about the environment, animals, and plants through crafts and stories.

children's gardening program brookhaven
Kristen D’Andrea

An ecology teacher helps a child transfer his plant into a bigger pot with soil. 

The pool is open daily, July through early September, giving your family ample time to go for a swim in the full-length pool. Parking stickers and/or fees are required for the pool.

The Holiday Lights Spectacular shows off festive lighted displays for the holidays in the form of an indoor walk-through show. All proceeds go to the Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center. The show takes place on various dates throughout December.

Visiting the Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center

Address: 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville

Hours: Schedule varies; see website for details

Admission: Fees vary

For more information: 631-758-9664 or


Main image: Kids can see a llama at Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center's Animal Preserve.
Kristen D’Andrea


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