Less than a day’s drive from Omaha, southwest Missouri has much to offer nature enthusiasts. One of its premier attractions, located in Springfield, is the award-winning Wonders of Wildlife—a 350,000 sq. ft. wildlife national museum and aquarium that is larger than the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Established in 2017 by Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist, Johnny Morris, Wonders of Wildlife serves as an interactive world to educate visitors on the importance of the outdoors and conservation efforts. “At Wonders of Wildlife, our talented team is driven by a collective passion for conservation and educating the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts,” Morris said.
The attraction features more than 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds as well as multisensory habitats and engaging interactive exhibits. Two of its newest features are the American Museum of Fly Fishing, which moved from Manchester, VT, and the Nature’s Best Photography Gallery, which relocated from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing gallery exhibit includes a chronological history of the sport of fly fishing, profiles of celebrity fly fishers, some of the sport’s most significant rods, reels, and flies, as well as vintage photography, artwork, and historical texts that chronicle fly fishing’s earliest days.
The Nature’s Best Photography Exhibit documents the achievements of nature photographers worldwide. The exhibit receives 30,000 submissions annually and features a rotating gallery of wildlife photography and videos from around the world as a celebration of both people and nature.
This year, Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium was voted “America’s Best Aquarium” through a national public poll conducted by USA Today, which is the fourth time it has received the honor. The poll ranks the top 20 prominent institutions across North America. In 2017, the attraction was named “America’s Best New Attraction” by USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards. “We are honored by this recognition and grateful to our guests, members, and fans for their votes and support,” Morris said. “We hope the awareness generated by this award encourages even more people to visit and they are driven to enjoy and protect the great outdoors.” For more information, visit wondersofwildlife.org.