Who We Are

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Award-winning Facilities

Lakeside Nature Center and Pavilion. Photo © A. Zahner Company

Lakeside Nature Center serves the public as both an educational and recreational resource. More than 175,000 people visit the Nature Center annually, hike the trails or attend one of the educational programs to learn about native Missouri animals, plants and their habitats. It also serves as one of Missouri’s largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

Free and open to the public, the award-winning facility houses ~60 animals including bald eagles and other birds of prey, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. The Nature Center is located within Kansas City’s historic Swope Park and is owned and managed by KC Parks and Recreation. Additional support is provided by Friends of Lakeside Nature Center which provides volunteers and funding.

Welcome to Lakeside Nature Center.

Educational Programming

Staff naturalist with Opossum. Photo © Charlene Hansen

Wilma, Ornate Box Turtle. Photo © Juanita Bach

Staff naturalist and Storm, Great Horned Owl. Photo © Aaron Bono

Staff naturalists lead on and off-site educational programming that includes:
• a general wildlife program with an up-close look at birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates. Learn about the habitats and life history of several native species,
• a birds of prey program featuring the raptor species that are native to Missouri, with some of our ambassador raptors on display,
• a radical reptiles and amazing amphibians program with information on the myths and mysteries of our native snakes, turtles, frogs and more.

More information is at Educational Programming.

Live Native Animal Displays

Display Hall and Viewing Gallery. Photo © Aaron Bono

Cody, Coyote. Photo © Juanita Bach

Warsaw, Bald Eagle. Photo Juanita Bach

Live native animal displays include:
• a bald eagle exhibit,
• a weathering area that can be viewed from inside, showcasing the Nature Center’s hawks, owls, falcons, and vultures,
• aquariums and displays with several turtles, amphibians, reptiles, and fish,
• and several mammals, including rabbits, gray and flying squirrels, an opossum and a coyote.

More information is at Raptor Ambassadors and Educational Animals.

Gardens, Habitats and Trails

Dry Sun Garden in Late Summer. Photo © John Whiteman

Marsh in Summer. Photo © John Whiteman

Bethany Falls Boulders. Photo © Jim Hinds

The many gardens, habitats and trails surrounding the Center showcase:
• several gardens featuring native Missouri prairie flowers and grasses,
• a bird watching area with blind,
• water features including a marsh, pond, creeks, and rivers,
• savanna, prairie and upland and lowland forests with old-growth oak, cottonwood, sycamore and hickory trees,
• insect, butterfly and hummingbird habitats,
• Fox Hollow Trail including the Bethany Falls limestone boulders.

More information is at Gardens, Habitats and Trails.

Rental Spaces

Classroom/Event Space. Photo © Aaron Bono

Display Hall and Viewing Gallery. Photo © Aaron Bono

Lake Lodge. Photo © Aaron Bono

Spaces available for rent for parties, corporate retreats and other events include:
• the entire public space within Lakeside Nature Center, including the classroom/event space,
• a classroom/event space within the Nature Center overlooking the savannah, forest, and wetlands,
• Lake Lodge, a 1930’s rustic dining hall with full kitchen located within Swope Park,
• and the Hogan, an octagon shaped building for scout retreats featuring an overnight tent pitching area, fire ring and glade trail.

More information is at Reservations.

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