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Tillie K. Fowler Park Nature Center reopens after months of repairs

A variety of exhibits introduce Florida's native animals to visitors at the Tillie K. Fowler Park Nature Center.
A variety of exhibits introduce Florida's native animals to visitors at the Tillie K. Fowler Park Nature Center.

After being closed for months, the Tillie K. Fowler Park Nature Center on Jacksonville’s Westside has reopened with opportunities to learn about animals native to Florida and Jacksonville.

The nature center had been closed for several months as it underwent repairs. Jolie Friedrich, park naturalist supervisor for the city of Jacksonville’s Parks Department, said the building needed extensive work.

“We had to get the floors refinished; we got it repainted; we had some mold remediation. The building, I believe, was built in 1994, so it just needed a little bit of love,” Friedrich said.

Inside, guests can get an up-close experience with live snakes, frogs, turtles, lizards and more.

“We have some specimens from animals that you would find around here," Friedrich said. "So [Florida] Fish and Wildlife donated some large sea turtle shells. We have some various bones, some taxidermy for people to look at up close. We have some replica skulls, and then we have like a little kids touch tank to look at.”

Friedrich wants the reopening of the Nature Center to bring more people into the park so they can learn more about the natural wonders around them and care more about wildlife in Florida.

Plans are in the works to bring more interactive experiences to the center. Friedrich said she hopes to get grants to redo the butterfly garden to help people learn more about native gardening. There also are plans to install a new playground, which is expected to be complete by spring, according to the city.

The nature center is open free of charge Tuesday through Sunday at 7000 Roosevelt Blvd. Here are the hours:

  • Tuesday: 1-4 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9 a.m.-noon; 1-4 p.m.
  • Thursday: 8 a.m.-noon.
  • Friday: 1-4 p.m.
  • Saturday: 1-4 p.m.
  • Sunday: 1-4 p.m.

The city advises calling the Nature Center in advance — at 904-255-6877 — for the best experience.

Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida.