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The Nature Center a Great Place to Visit Over the Holidays

A stuffed cougar and a live tarantula are examples of what you can find at this hidden treasure in Veteran Acres Park.

About 5,000 children come here on field trips every year, but ask an adult where The Nature Center is in and you’ll get a head scratch and a “beats me” shrug.

“A lot of people don’t know we’re here,” said Kim Sheahan, assistant manager of , 330 N. Main Street.

When going north on Main Street, keep following it across Rte. 176. The road seems to disappear into a single-family subdivision, but the Nature Center is there at the northern terminus of Main Street, overlooking a pond in .

It can be a good place to take your children over Christmas break. It’s open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Sheahan said The Nature Center, run by , is best known for its live butterfly collection and working beehive.

But being nearly wintertime, no butterflies are fluttering about and the bee population at The Nature Center is doomed, in want of a queen.

There are, however, plenty of other live animals: Lizards, snakes, frogs, fish and birds.

Sheahan took Rosy, a 12-year-old tarantula, out of her cage Friday morning.  The hairy spider only lets Sheahan touch her.

Wildlife that once roamed the area is represented through the art of taxidermy. There are stuffed bears, a stuffed cougar and a stuffed bobcat.

An exhibit of bones of mammoths and mastodons that once roamed Illinois are fascinating.

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