“We built this facility with a lot of passion,” said Morris. “And one thing that separates it from many museums and aquariums, and even the Natural History Museum, is that we very proudly salute the hunters and anglers, the sportsmen and women, of America.”
Years in the making, the Wonders of Wildlife experience begins with an ascent up an escalator surrounded by buffalo and leads to a gallery recognizing Native Americans and their contribution to conservation.
“We wanted to have this special tribute to them because in many respects they were our first conservationists,” said Morris. “They lived off the land and were good stewards of the land and they had a profound and deep appreciation for fish and wildlife.”
From there the new museum takes visitors on a journey through immersive wildlife galleries that bring visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled and an all-new 1.5 million gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
“Our conservation partners have spent literally hours and literally years studying these habitats to share them accurately and I’m very proud of them,” said Morris.
At the grand opening of the museum in September 2017, Morris was joined by former presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush along with other dignitaries and conservationists.
“Laura sends her best and I can’t wait to tell her how cool this place is,” said Bush, during the grand opening ceremonies. “This is the story of America’s future. I value Johnny for promoting the idea of being a good steward of God’s creation and I applaud you for your willingness to educate a group of youngsters coming up about how vital the outdoors is to our nation’s future.”
Bush also read a statement from his father, late former President George H.W. Bush who is a long-time friend of Morris.
“What my friend, Johnny Morris, has created with this museum is a treasured gift to America and our proud outdoor heritage,” the elder Bush wrote. “What excites me the most is the impact I know this facility will have on our young people.”
With a mission to celebrate people who hunt, fish and act as stewards of the land and water, Morris’ legacy will undoubtedly live on for generations because of Wonders of Wildlife. The museum is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. (5 p.m. on off-peak dates to be announced). For ticket information, visit wondersofwildlife.org.
Vibrant and expansive aquariums and aquatic habitats allow visitors to immerse themselves inside a river full of piranhas, discover what it’s like to touch a stingray, traverse an underwater tunnel surrounded by river monsters and plunge to the depths of the ocean among spectacular sharks.
Just outside of the entrance to the wildlife galleries section of Wonders of Wildlife, inside Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, visitors can see an exact replica of the original Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, along with other memorabilia that helped shape the company into what it is today. This all-new museum is free to the public and open during store hours.
Adjacent to the Bass Pro Museum, is a museum dedicated to NASCAR and motorsports. See winning race cars up close and other memorabilia that highlights the thrilling motorsports industry. This museum is also open to the public during store hours.
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