Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium today announced plans to reopen May 23 after being closed for two months. The world-class conservation attraction is implementing a number of new standard operating procedures based on best practices from aquarium industry leaders and public health officials in compliance with city guidelines. Limits on daily attendance and new timed-entry reservations for guests and members will allow for social distancing and enhanced surface cleaning efforts throughout the facility to ensure the health and safety of every guest, team member and animal in its care.
"We're excited to welcome visitors back to Wonders of Wildlife to share the wonder of the natural world and bring some much-needed happiness to our community and our nation," said Bryan Nadeau, vice president of conservation attractions at the Johnn Morris Conservation Foundation. "We're grateful to our passionate animal care team for continuing to provide excellent care for our 35,000 live animals throughout the closure. From our back-of-house facilities to our enclosures and habitats, Wonders of Wildlife already provides the highest standard of care to protect the health and well-being of our wildlife every day, and our entire team has been working tirelessly to ensure we are ready to apply that same standard of excellence to safely accommodate guests under new operating guidelines."
The temporary nine-week closure marked the first time the conservation attraction, which has been named "America's Best Aquarium" and "Best New Attraction" by "USA Today" readers, had closed since its September 2017 grand opening. Along with attendance limits and timed-entry reservations, the aquarium is implementing a series of health and safety initiatives including online-only ticket sales, touchless transactions and enhanced cleaning methods.
The new health and safety measures are informed by local, state and national guidelines. In addition, The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, one of the country's leading aquariums, provided support. The Florida Aquarium developed a comprehensive COVID-19 reopening plan and brought in the Infectious Disease Prevention team from Tampa General Hospital, a world-class academic medical center, and infectious disease physicians from the University of South Florida Health. On May 10, The Florida Aquarium was one of the first aquariums in North America to reopen its doors to the public. The Florida Aquarium's president and CEO, Roger Germann, a longtime friend and admirer of Johnny Morris, and Andy Wood, chief operating officer, recently toured Wonders of Wildlife and saw first-hand many of the specific guidelines and standards they are enacting to safeguard the public, staff and animals.
"We greatly appreciate Johnny Morris and his mission to connect more people with nature, Germann said. "I'm honored to help Johnny, Bryan and the Wonders of Wildlife team help ensure they are taking all necessary steps to reopen safely and responsibly. Wonders of Wildlife is a world-class aquarium and the City of Springfield and our country is incredibly lucky to have such an incredible resource for conservation education as part of its community. Having walked through Wonders of Wildlife this morning, I know all guests who visit will feel safe, have fun and be blown away by this awe-inspiring experience."
Specific new procedures at Wonders of Wildlife include:
- Limiting guest attendance at any one time through timed-entry ticketing
- Requiring six feet of distance between tables and limiting parties to 10 or fewer
- Adding clear "sneeze guard" shields at all guest service locations
Housekeeping and sanitation:
- Installing additional hand sanitization stations throughout the attraction for guests and team members
- Sanitizing all common areas and hard surfaces with deep-cleaning disinfectants nightly and throughout the day
- Providing all team members with personal protective equipment, including voluntary face coverings, and responsibly practicing strong personal hygiene
- Expanding operating hours to 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily to allow for social distancing
- Modifying interactive experiences and exhibits, such as theaters, the Stingray Touch Pool, Sketch Aquarium, and Penguin Encounter to allow for proper social distancing; Shark Dive will open June 1 with extra sanitation precautions, including equipment sterilization
- Temporarily closing confined spaces, such as pop up bubbles and the swinging bridge
A complete list of health and safety measures can be found at www.wondersofwildlife.org.
“Studies show that the bond between people and nature plays an important role in supporting public health. In today’s world, connecting people - especially kids - to nature is more important than ever,” said noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris. “We’re very grateful to our friend Roger Germann and his Florida Aquarium team for their countless hours of preparation to benefit our facility and community. With these new measures in place, we proudly invite everyone to come responsibly celebrate the power of the great outdoors, right here in the Ozarks.”
AN OCEAN OF THANKS FOR LOCAL HEROES
As thanks for their hard work and sacrifices to keep our community safe, Wonders of Wildlife will be announcing special offers for healthcare workers, first responders, active military and veterans to experience Wonders of Wildlife. Details will be announced as plans are finalized.
Online-only ticket sales - To ensure adequate social distancing and create the best possible experience, all guests and members must reserve online timed-entry tickets prior to visiting Wonders of Wildlife. Visitors should go to www.wondersofwildlife.org where they can select the date and time of their visit. Once reserved, they will receive an email with their digital ticket that will allow touchless scanning at entry.
BEST VALUE: Annual Memberships offering unlimited visits
Guests can now take advantage of incredible savings by becoming a Wonders of Wildlife annual member. With the purchase of an annual membership, guests receive unlimited visits to the Wildlife Galleries and Aquarium Adventure, plus special discounts on select events and programs including summer camps. Members can visit during operating hours but need to reserve a free timed-entry ticket in advance at www.wondersofwildlife.org.
• Try before you buy - Annual memberships provide the best value, offering families and individuals a full year of unlimited visits plus other special privileges. Guests can “try before you buy” with general admission tickets that can be upgraded to a full membership on the day of your visit.
• Excellent family value - Families can spend hours exploring Wonders of Wildlife with a typical visit lasting at least three hours or more. Compared with the price of a movie, a round of miniature golf or other area attractions, it offers an excellent value for families.
• Invest in education and entertainment- Wonders of Wildlife is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of outdoor stewards with a fun, interactive, and engaging experience that appeals to visitors of all ages. In addition to encountering more than 800 species representing wildlife from around the world, guests will learn about the vital role everyone plays in protecting habitat and wildlife.
All annual memberships active as of March 18 have been automatically extended by the number of days the aquarium was closed.
For more information visit www.wondersofwildlife.org or call 1-888-222-6060.
About Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium consists of an all-new 1.5-million-gallon Aquarium Adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, and immersive Wildlife Galleries that bring visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. Created by noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris, the 350,000- square-foot experience celebrates those who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water. Located next to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri the campus is a centerpiece of America’s Conservation Capital in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. Wonders of Wildlife has been voted “Best New Attraction in America” and “America’s Best Aquarium” by the readers of USA TODAY. For more information, visit www.wondersofwildlife.org.