Let The Wild Be Free
exposure to the wild to know the difference between a raccoon and a squirrel?"
Actually, the Friends wear several Lakeside hats. Lloyd and Robin Davies, for example, head up one of the most active Stream Teams in the state. In addition to animal rehab and planting thousands of trees along streambanks, the Friends of Lakeside Stream Team will haul away between 30 and 50 tons of debris from a nearby stream.
"We've probably got about 400 tires out of there," Lloyd said during a cleanup this spring. "Tires, four refrigerators and an eight-piece furniture sectional. We even found a bowling ball. That's just normal for us."
Why are people drawn to injured animals and dirty streams when they could be sipping a cold brew at Kauffman Stadium or a hot toddy at Arrowhead Stadium?
"They love animals, that's the first hook," said Kay Wise, Friends president. "They feel they can make a difference. They believe that bunnies and squirrels are important, too. They'll do anything to help get that message across."
The Friends rehab animals, pitch in against pollution, conduct educational programs and raise money.
Because it has grossly outgrown its current 64-year-old facility in Swope park, Lakeside will soon break ground for a new $2 million, 15,000-square foot building. The new Lakeside will be located just about a mile up from the flood-prone old building. The Friends have committed to raising $500,000. The Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreation is matching that am ount, and the other $1 million is coming from the Conservation Department.
"It makes good sense to create one very good facility than have two organizations both working separately of each other," said Anita Gorman, Conservation Commissioner. "It's a wonderful partnership. Our donation says to the private donor that this is going to be a stable, well-meaning operation." Raising money is a difficult task, almost as onerous as being one of Missouri's busiest wildlife rehabilitation and educational facilities.
"But if we have to raise this money nickel by nickel, quarter by quarter we will," promised Tritico.
Gene Fox is a metro media specialist in the Conservation Department's Kansas City office.
On a good day, the Lakeside Nature Center, one of the busiest wildlife rehabilitation operations in Missouri, will treat 30 injured or orphaned wild animals. On a bad day, it can expect twice that many. Over the course of a year, nearly 2,000 animals will come through its doors.
Fortunately, the Kansas City facility has many