Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, is bringing a new outdoor attraction to Springfield, Missouri. The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium opens Thursday, providing a national history museum to those living in the Midwest and beyond. It also helps promote hunting and fishing, something other museums of its kind seldom if ever do.
Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1½-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, and birds, and an immersive wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. Located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops’ national headquarters, the 320,000-square-foot experience celebrates people who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water.
“I am proud and excited that this special facility dedicated to those who love the outdoors will open in the heart of America in our hometown, Springfield, Missouri,” Morris said. “We are deeply grateful to the many remarkably talented individuals and world-class conservation organizations that have come together for the past nine years to help make this vision a reality. It is our shared hope that the tremendous investment of time, energy, and resources will have a profound, positive, long-term impact on the future of hunting, fishing, and conservation in America.”
Some of the many exhibits include:
- more than a mile of immersive trails and exhibits
- 35,000 live animals representing 700 species
- More than 70,000 square feet of immersive wildlife galleries and dioramas
- the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns
- the International Game Fish Association’s Fishing Hall of Fame
- the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum
- the National Archery Hall of Fame
Also featured in the Bass Pro founder’s facility will be, fittingly, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, which is permanently relocating from Birmingham, Alabama. Developed in partnership with the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), the exhibit includes a fascinating collection of artifacts and memorabilia, such as authentic rods and reels, antique lures, and historical photos. More than 60 Hall of Fame members will be featured, including Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Johnny Morris, Ray Scott, President George H.W. Bush, and many others. Several artifacts date back to the early days of B.A.S.S. tournaments in the 1960s, including the scale used to weigh record catches and the first Bassmaster Classic victory trophy.
“To be part of a transformational project like Wonders of Wildlife and share the story of bass fishing with generations of future visitors is a dream come true,” said Donald Howell, president of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame’s board of directors. “There is no better location to honor the individuals that have played a crucial role in bass fishing.
“Visitors will be blown away by all that Wonders of Wildlife encompasses, and we’re grateful to Johnny Morris for his partnership and bringing this vision to life in such compelling fashion.”
Tickets are being sold for the aquarium portion, the wildlife-viewing galleries, and for both in a combo pass. The facility will be open every day but Christmas from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m. (5 p.m. on off-peak dates to be announced), but due to the high attendance numbers expected, WOW is requiring those purchasing a general-admission ticket online to reserve a specific arrival time. All times are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
For more information, visit wondersofwildlife.org.