Lakeside Nature Center

Lakeside Nature Center is located at 4701 E. Gregory Blvd. in Swope Park. The award winning facility, designed by International Architects Atlier, Inc., opened in 1999. Huge windows allow you to feel as though you’re on a walk through the woods as you explore the exciting displays. Large aquariums with fish and turtles, a Bald Eagle exhibit, a weathering area with owls and hawks, and numerous snake displays invite visitors to take their time learning about our native wildlife. The building was funded through donations from Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, and City of Kansas City, Missouri.

Naturalists care for the wildlife and present a variety of educational programs for individuals and groups. Classes are presented in the Nature Center Classroom, on the nearby trail, on the marsh trail, and at the Camp Lake of the Woods facilities, all also in Swope Park.

Lakeside Nature Center has the second largest wildlife rehabilitation program in the state and is the only one in Missouri to combine wildlife rehabilitation with extensive environmental education programming.

In 1966, Lakeside Nature Center opened in an old concession stand in Swope Park that was built in 1931 as a WPA project. At the time, it was the only facility in Missouri to house live native mammals, reptiles, and birds of prey where the visitors could stand within inches of the animals. Swope Park, donated in 1896 by Thomas H. Swope, was Kansas City’s playground. The Park continues to develop through today.

Environmental education was in its infancy. A group of forward thinking citizens, biologists, and educators provided resident camps, habitat exploration, and environmental science classes in the Camp Lake of the Woods area near Lakeside Nature Center.
The tradition continues as Lakeside Nature Center Naturalists use the new facility and Camp Lake of the Woods area to offer unique experiences so everyone can enjoy the wilderness. Both upland and lowland forests are the Park’s primary features, along with the Bethany Falls Limestone cliffs and the Blue River. Biologically speaking, Swope Park has much to see and explore.

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