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After nearly a decade in the making, Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium opens its doors to the public on Friday, September 22. Located in Springfield, Missouri, the museum and its surrounding campus is hailed as the largest of its kind — larger than the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Measuring at 350,000-square-feet, the museum will feature 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds all representing more than 800 species.

River Monsters

Envisioned as the world’s greatest tribute to the conservation movement, the museum is a partnership with Johnny Morris, founder/CEO of Bass Pro Shops, along with conservation leaders, and is divided into the aquarium adventure and the wildlife galleries. The aquarium is an interactive experience, with 1.5 million gallons of world-class aquarium adventures. Visitors can immerse themselves inside a river full of piranhas, touch a stingray, traverse an underwater tunnel and come face-to-face with sharks, jellyfish, snakes, iguanas, eagles, owls and more.

Morris created the not-for-profit Wonders of Wildlife as a gift to the nation, with the intention of inspiring people of all ages to engage with the natural world. The museum was built with the goal of educating the public on conservation efforts and 40 leading conservation organizations came together to showcase the history of the American outdoors. From Native Americans to Lewis and Clark and beyond, guests can wonder throughout history as a celebration of those who hunt, fish and act as stewards of the land.

Great African Hall

“Wonders of Wildlife is an inspirational journey around the world that celebrates the role of hunters and anglers as America’s true conservation heroes,” Morris said in a press release.

Located next to the Bass Pro Shops National headquarters, the new campus is a centerpiece of America’s Conservation Capital in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. In addition to the aquarium and wildlife galleries, there will be more than 1.5 miles of trails through immersive exhibits and displays.

On Wednesday, September 20, the museum will host a gala with former presidents, conservation leaders, celebrities and other high-ranking government officials. The goal is to spread a powerful message to inspire everyone to connect with the outdoors and The Wildlife Museum stresses that it is more important now than ever before to remind the public to preserve and promote outdoor experiences.

Piranha pop up bubble

Tickets for entry into both the aquarium and wildlife galleries start at $23.95 for children (ages 4-11) and $39.95 for adults. Admission is free for children four and younger.

All images courtesy of Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium.

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