WONDERS OF WILDLIFE MUSEUM
On September 21, 2017, Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine Group, cut the ribbon to the Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. It was the culmination of a fourdecade quest that, some might say, was the driving force behind his development of the world’s grandest outdoor sporting empire.
The 350,000-squarefoot complex housing the museum and aquarium features more than 1.5 miles of trails through realistic wildlife habitats and 1.5 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater aquariums. The Wonders of Wildlife contains 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds displayed in their natural habitats.
“This facility is really all about sportsmen and women, hunters and anglers in our country that have meant so much to conservation,” Morris said to press and dignitaries, including George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Kevin Costner and Mark Wahlberg. “We want to celebrate them and how much they meant to fish and wildlife, and for that matter, our whole way of life in this country,” he said.
The saltwater and freshwater aquariums, including the hypnotizing baitball tank filled with whirling herring and circling sharks, offered a view of the interaction between prey and predator not possible to witness anywhere else. The towering shipwreck reef, a re-creation of a decommissioned ship intentionally sunk by Morris off the coast of Florida, was impressive in showing how various species of marine life flock to a man-made habitat. Wonders of Wildlife tickets range from $9.95 for children to attend the aquariums to $39.95 for adult combo passes. The Wonders of Wildlife museum will be open 364 days per year. WOW, as it’s known in the offices of Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine Group, is the perfect acronym for this, Johnny Morris’ stunning compilation of all things outdoors. For more information on Wonders of Wildlife, visit wondersofwildlife.org. —John Neporadny Jr.