Keeper of the Plans

Looking for 'America's best' aquarium? It's not too far from Wichita

A virtual tour of new aquarium, museum in Missouri

Officials with Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium invited media to tour the new facility in Springfield, Mo.
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Officials with Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium invited media to tour the new facility in Springfield, Mo.

Another month, another national recognition for Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

The massive aquarium that opened in Springfield, Mo. last year was on Friday named "America's Best Aquarium" by USA Today.

Earlier this year, the same publication named the aquarium the best new attraction in the country.

The 350,000-square-foot aquarium and outdoors museum received more votes than the Florida Aquarium (3rd), the Dallas World Aquarium (4th) and the Georgia Aquarium (8th).

Twenty nominees were furnished by a panel of USA Today experts, and the general public cast votes during the month of April.

What's the big deal about this aquarium, anyway?

The facility – which is adjacent to Bass Pro Shops’ national headquarters – features a 1.5 million-gallon aquarium and a series of themed “4-D” wildlife galleries that feature both taxidermied animals and replicas.

It’s an homage, museum officials say, to the hunters and anglers who help maintain proper wildlife population levels.

“One thing that separates it from many museums, aquariums and even natural history museums is that we very proudly salute the hunters and anglers – the sportsmen and women of America,” founder Johnny Morris said at a media day last September.

The museum is about a four-hour drive from Wichita.

Tickets to the aquarium only are $29.95 for adults, $19.95 for children 4-11; tickets to the wildlife galleries only are $14.95 for adults, $9.95 for children 4-11. A full-access pass to the museum is $39.95 for adults, $23.95 for children 4-11.

For more information, visit www.wondersofwildlife.org.

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