Wonders of Wildlife used to be the American National Fish and Wildlife Living Museum and Aquarium and was opened in 2001. The owner, John Morris (CEO, Bass Pro Shops and newest owner of the Pyramid in Memphis), wasn’t thrilled with the place. His dream had been to present a place to the public in which they could not only take in wildlife, but where they would get a sense of awe, that “wow” factor that so many places don’t have these days. So, just six years later, he closed his doors, stating that he would reopen within a few months after a little bit of renovating and expanding.
However, those months became years, and many who had loved the place in its original splendor began to wonder if indeed the place would ever again reopen. When it did reopen in September of 2017, it had taken more time for renovations than had the Sistine Chapel.
Its doors reopened, and the attraction was four-times its original size. It Morris’ side during this grand reopening were Missouri’s governor, the Secretary of the Interior, two A-list Hollywood actors, and two former US presidents. One of these presidents, Jimmy Carter, donated a living rainbow trout.
In the spirit of Branson, Missouri’s bringing country to the Midwest, WoW brought the ocean to the Midwest. It certainly rivals anything similar that can be found on either coast, both in scale and in size. It is even larger than the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. One of the exhibits showcases life in the oceans that has adapted to the plethora of “junk” (from humans) on the seafloor.
The venue houses close to 35,000 various fish and other sea life, as well as nearly a thousand land animals, such as alligators, beavers, and otters. There is an exhibit built to resemble a cave which houses living bats, and one that illustrates the variety of snakes on the planet.
Open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, and adult admission is $40.