Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium
|Date opened||September 22, 2017|
|Location||Springfield, Missouri, United States|
The Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, also known as simply Wonders of Wildlife is a not-for-profit educational conservation-themed attraction in Springfield, Missouri. It is located adjacent to the Bass Pro Shops National headquarters, and is named for the Bass Pro Shops' founder. The 350,000 square foot facility  consists of two major sections. The Wildlife Museum presents a series of immersive wildlife galleries containing taxidermied animals from around the world displayed in elaborate and detailed dioramas representing a variety of natural habitats, as well as historic artifacts, artwork, films, and special exhibits, including the Boone and Crockett Club's North American Heads and Horns Collection of big game mounts. The 1.5 Million gallon Aquarium showcases 35,000 individual fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals in a series of themed areas including an ocean shipwreck, Louisiana swamp, Ozark forest, and the Amazon rain-forest. In a press release accompanying the facility's grand opening announcement Morris was quoted as saying, “Wonders of Wildlife is an inspirational journey around the world that celebrates the role of hunters and anglers as America’s true conservation heroes.”  The facility opened to the public under its current name and configuration on September 22, 2017. In attendance at the opening event were prominent North American conservation leaders and numerous celebrities including U.S. President Jimmy Carter, U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Costner, Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Easton Corbin, and many others. More than 40 conservation groups, including the National Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation and National Geographic Society, partnered with the Wonders of Wildlife project, which was nearly a decade in development and construction. Wonders of Wildlife was voted the "2017 Best New Attraction" in the United States by readers of USA Today.
Original Wonders of Wildlife (2001-2007)
Wonders of Wildlife's original 92,000-square-foot (8,500 m2) facility, designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, opened to the public on November 1, 2001. It housed 225 species of live animals, fresh and saltwater aquariums, interactive displays and educational programs. The original attraction closed in December 2007, with the announcement of a planned expansion that would increase the square footage of the facility by 58 percent, at a cost of $25 million. Subsequently, museum representatives announced a much more ambitious expansion, at a cost of about $80 million. With some changes and updates, the original facility was incorporated into the much larger attraction that opened in September 2017.
The initial Wonders of Wildlife museum was the result of an intensive lobbying campaign by and financial support from Johnny Morris. He campaigned for a ballot initiative that funded a portion of the $52,000,000.00 cost of building the original museum and the creation of a museum district to oversee the planning, design, and construction of the museum. An agreement with the City of Springfield allows a portion of the city's hotel-motel tax to be used for capital projects. This project also received $1.5 million in federal appropriations. However, after receiving public backlash for using public funds on the project, Morris returned the local public money received, and used private funds and donations to finish the project.
- "See all the world's habitats under one roof". USA Today. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
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- "Environmental Excellence: Welcome to our newest neighbor" (PDF). Springfield-Greene County Steering Committee. Winter 2002. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- Williams, Jessica (2011-06-04). "Wonders of Wildlife: What's Taking So Long?". OzarksFirst.com. Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
- "New name, bigger vision for Wonders of Wildlife". Springfield News-Leader. March 19, 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
- "89th General Assembly: L8005.04T 1998". Missouri House of Representatives. 1998. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Bridges, Amos (2011-07-25). "City of Springfield gets better credit rating". News-Leader.com. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Bond, Christopher (2001-11-01). "Letter from Senator Bond to Wonders of Wildlife". U.S. Senate. Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
- "Wonders of Wildlife Returns $4 Million in Hotel-Motel Taxes". OzarksFirst.com. November 22, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2018.