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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium

The ability to enjoy outdoor recreation has always been, and must always be, accessible to every American. Today, a new national destination is honoring the outdoorsmen and conservationists who helped discover, develop, and preserve the nation we love. Created by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, celebrates people who hunt, fish, and act as stewards of the land and water.

Unprecedented in scale and scope, Wonders of Wildlife is the largest and most important natural history museum to open in America in more than a century. With 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, the 350,000-square-foot complex contains more than a mile and a half of trails through authentic, immersive habitats and features 1.5 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater aquariums using innovative designs that transport guests to the heart of the ocean.

But beyond its sheer scale and quality, what’s most impressive about this museum and aquarium is its powerful message to inspire everyone to connect with the outdoors. As the world advances and more people live and work in major metropolitan areas, it is more important than ever to preserve and promote outdoor experiences. In a stress-filled world of traffic jams, endless emails and calls, and constant pressure, there is no better medicine than a peaceful, rejuvenating experience in the great outdoors.

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I relocated to Springfield with my family to join the Wonders of Wildlife team just over two years ago following a 22-year career with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. I like to joke that I traded Shamu for a 400-pound goliath grouper—but I couldn’t be prouder to call Springfield home, and to work for Johnny Morris, whose goal has always been to inspire millions of people to get outdoors.

I can’t think of a better place to inspire people to do just that than right here in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains—a beautiful region in the American heartland that is easily accessible to people across the country.

Wonders of Wildlife was nine years in the making when it opened in September 2017. Inspired by Johnny’s visits to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., Wonders of Wildlife has already helped educate and inspire more than three million people to love and enjoy nature. Wonders of Wildlife is a celebration of the rich history of hunting and fishing in America. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s a place to introduce the values we hold dearest to the generations that are to be the future stewards of our beloved lands and water.

America’s sportsmen and sportswomen are among the most significant conservationists, leading the movement in the late 19th century and funding vital conservation efforts through self-imposed taxes and licenses that continue to protect wildlife populations and habitats today and for future generations.

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The museum and aquarium pay homage to the sportsmen and sportswomen of yesterday, today, and tomorrow with the knowledge that the surest way to preserve our rich outdoor heritage is to expose more people to its rich history and awe-inspiring beauty.

The museum and aquarium are home to the world’s foremost collection of conservation exhibits from more than 40 leading national conservation organizations coming together under one roof. Within its walls, you can find the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum; the National Archery Hall of Fame; the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns; the Lewis and Clark Collection; the International Game Fish Association’s Fishing Hall of Fame; and the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. It is also home to historic artifacts from the lives of our nation’s founding conservationists like John James Audubon and Theodore Roosevelt.

It’s more important than ever for people of all ages to connect with nature through fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation to ensure we can protect wildlife for generations to come. Wonders of Wildlife creates a very special experience that gets people of all ages—but especially kids—excited and inspired to get outdoors and explore. I hope that you will come discover all that awaits you inside Wonders of Wildlife, and bring your family so they too can share the wonder.


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Bryan Nadeau, Vice President , Wonders of Wildlife

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