KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Deep in the woods of Swope Park, you’ll find Lakeside Nature Center. It’s a place dedicated to education, conservation, and rehabilitation. It’s been around more than 70 years, just not always at the current location.
“A lot of people ask us why are we called Lakeside Nature Center, when we’re not actually by a lake, and that’s an excellent question,” Interim director Jacque Blessing said.
In the 1950s, the original center sat next to “Lake of the Woods” just down the road. It took a group effort to eventually move to a spot large enough to house its growing intake of animals.
“With parks and rec, Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, and our regulating partners at the Missouri Department of Conservation, everybody kind of came together. Money was raised. And this building was opened in February of 1999,” Blessing said.
The number of animals the center treats each year has grown exponentially, way up from 200 a year.
“We are running close to 4,000 a year. That’s kind of our new normal,” Blessing said.