The Frank Passerelli Nature Center welcomes thousands of visitors to Lake Katherine. It is the home to Lake Katherine's Nature Discovery Center, Wildlife Discovery Center, Nature Gift Store, Welcome Desk and Administrative Offices.
The Welcome Desk is staffed by volunteers who warmly greet visitors, provide trail maps, and answer questions. They also provide educational program information and registration. If you would like to be a volunteer, click here for more information.
Adjacent to the Nature Center, the Brigid O'Malley Auditorium hosts a variety of environmental education programs, meetings and special events. The 2,000 square-foot space is rented out for private functions. Click here to learn about renting the auditorium.
Handicap-accessible restrooms and a drinking fountain are available to the public.
Nature Discovery Center
The Nature Discovery Center, on the upper level of the nature center, provides hands-on natural science activities, inviting children to learn more about the natural world through interactive learning.
Through the generosity of donations from private taxidermy collections, the center displays a variety of animal mounts. The preserved species collection includes a large display of hoofed animals from North America.
The Nature Discovery Center is home to an exhibit of birds collected in the area in the early 1900's. The collection was donated to Lake Katherine by the late Karl Bartel, a nationally renowned bird watcher and researcher.
Wildlife Discovery Center
The Wildlife Discovery Center exhibits native wildlife and domestic animals on the lower level of the nature center.
Visitors can see snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders, newts, and fish native to the area. The domestic animals include a ferret, a guinea pig, a rat, and two bunnies. All of the animals are used in educational programs.
- The garter snake was found in the basement of a city employee and could not be released because it was late winter.
- The bunnies, Lucky and Cookie, like many Palos Heights residents, trace their ancestry to the Netherlands, although their breed Dutch Blue was developed in England.
- The Western Hognose snake was originally confiscated by wildlife officials. It is an endangered species in Illinois and required special permits before it was allowed to be housed at Lake Katherine.
- All of the animals at Lake Katherine can be sponsored through the Animal Adoption program. Click here for more information on how you can help care for these special animals.