SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The much-anticipated Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium opened last week with all the pomp and celebration of a Hollywood extravaganza, but with three outdoors-loving U.S. Presidents serving as headliners and with conservation leaders and fishing industry CEOs replacing the glitterati.
Speaking at the grand opening gala here Thursday were former presidents George H.W. Bush (by video), George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, all of whom congratulated Morris on the realization of his long-held dream to open a massive, 350,000-square-foot museum and aquarium complex.
The facility, adjacent to the flagship Bass Pro Shops store, opened to the public over the weekend.
Larger than the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, it is touted as the “world’s grandest tribute to the conservation movement.”
To underscore that, Morris invited 400 leaders of the most prominent conservation organizations in the country, including B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin, to take part in the opening. Among them were fish and game directors of practically every state, along with other state and federal conservation officials.