As Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium gets set to open this week, next to Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, we’re getting some of the first views of the attractions inside the 350,000 square foot facility.
The WOW museum has had several grand-opening dates throughout its time, since closing for renovations in 2007. The museum originally opened in 2001.
There are two parts to the building.
One is the wildlife galleries where you can see mounted animals from all over the world in re-created habitats. In one part of the museum, there is an animal display that simulates the 1908 Bronx Zoo.
The other part of the facility is the aquarium.
Leaders say there are nearly 35,000 fish and other aquatic life in a 1.5 million gallons of salt and freshwater aquariums.
You can interact and touch stingrays and other sea creatures in a separate exhibit.
There are also hundreds of live animals from the around the world, like frogs, birds, and snakes.
The WOW Missouri exhibit touts bald eagles, owls, black bears, bats, and beavers.
Along with interactive exhibits, visitors can also enjoy some theater experiences thanks to contributions from National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.
Signature galleries include a massive “open ocean” ring shaped aquarium and the two story Shipwreck Room where guests can touch stingrays on the ocean floor. Immersive wildlife galleries feature 4D dioramas that transport guests through sights, sounds, smells and climates to some of the wildest places on earth, including a trek across the African savannah, the Amazon rainforest, the Arctic and America’s National Parks and more in a multisensory celebration of conservation and craftsmanship.
The Wonders of Wildlife Museum on W. Sunshine in Springfield was originally paid for with a portion of the city’s hotel-motel tax.
In 2011, Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris paid back that money in the form of donations to Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
WOW is now funded through a not-for-profit foundation and depends on donations.
"What's taken so long to create this place, you start to get a sense of it...bringing these different organizations together, the conservation partners, the pieces of history that are a part of this - and the national different halls of fame. There's a tremendous amount of history and artifacts that connect us to the past. We hope to get kids inspired," said Morris.