Voted #1 Best Aquarium- The Wonders of Wildlife and Aquarium

Travel/ Tourist Attraction

Happy Monday Everyone!   Dave and I finally got to visit “ The Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium,” which was voted #1 best aquarium in the United States earlier this year. The museum has been open for longer than a year now and we used to live 5 minutes away and just found the time to go recently. I had heard such incredible things about it, so when Dave and I finally went on Fourth of July weekend, we were super excited. I was excited about seeing the exhibits, but Dave was like on another planet. Dave is one of those guys who loves to watch all kinds of wildlife documentaries and is in heaven when watching “Planet Earth,” so you can probably imagine how excited he was about visiting. But really if you’re in the Springfield, Missouri area, or you’re traveling, you won’t want to miss “The Wonders of Wildlife.” It is a MUST SEE.

Here’s the outfit I wore that day! Off the shoulder top if from Walmart, Navy shorts are from Goodwill, straw bag from Old Navy, and my sandals are dupes of the Nordstrom sandals and they are from JCPenny’s. ( Linked on my Instagram)

* sorry for the dirty mirror.

The website describes “The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium” as:
“Spanning 350,000 square feet and more than 1.5 miles of trails, Wonders of Wildlife takes you on a journey through immersive habitats that entertain and educate while sharing the story of America’s most significant conservationists throughout history and today.” Nine years later, after lots of diligent, elaborate and detailed plans and more than 2000 painters, sculptors, woodworkers, iron workers, taxidermists, illustrators, designers, scientists, biologists, engineers and others contributed to the facility, it is open to the public.

The walls took six years to paint. Local artists Adam and Aaron Wolken painstakingly drew and re-drew each room to depict the landscapes.

When you enter to purchase tickets, you can see a little of the exhibit and aquarium, but until you’ve walked around for a bit, you can’t quite comprehend how big the museum and aquarium actually are. There are a couple options for ticket packages, but i strongly suggest getting the Wonders of Wildlife : Museum and Aquarium tickets so you can enter both sections. Dave and I decided to go through the Wildlife section first and man, it is HUGE! We could’ve spent WAY more time (if we had it) reading all the amazing history and insights, but we had a couple other things planned out that day.

Sorry the pics are a little fuzzy… I was riding up the escalator. 🙂

The wildlife exhibit takes you through history, first beginning with the Native Americans and the Buffalo. I was taken back by all the buffalo lining the escalator as we entered the first part of the exhibit ( hence me trying to get some pics) and the Native American head-dresses, bows, and outfits that were on display were absolutely incredible. So much detail and so much attention placed into each garment. And legit question… ” Does anyone know where they got all those small beads from?” – Did they trade things with westerners for all those beads? I would have to say this section of the wildlife was one of my favorite parts of the exhibit! I am definitely a researcher and I love learning new things about different people groups, their customs, their clothing and how they lived in their day to day life. Each display had a little write up with information provided that helped understand the displayed item and took me back to the past.

The exhibit moves you from the Native Americans and Buffalo, to Teddy Roosevelt’s cabin, the Louis and Clark’s expeditions, the National parks, and then each continent. Each exhibit was absolutely phenomenal! The amount of attention, detail, and craftsmanship that went into each section was truly remarkable. The habitats in which the animals were displayed in included massive hand-painted murals, native foliage, and special effects to create the feeling of the animals natural habitat. In one afternoon you can stroll through the World, walking among all types of wildlife and game, and apparently, the worlds largest collection of record setting big game animals. Game like deer, elk, bear, bison, caribou, moose, muskov, antelope, sheep and more are nestled among their own native environments. The african safari section had to have been one of my favorites! The only time I’ve seen a zebra, elephants, or giraffe has been at the zoo and there’s always a huge fence surrounding them, but at the museum I could stand right next to them.

The replica of Theodore Roosevelt’s cabin was really impressive to see, and on each of the side walls, there were write ups and a couple of short film clips talking about Conservation and how Theodore Roosevelt became known as the “Conversationalist President.” I never new that he was one of the sole reasons National parks were created…pretty amazing legacy!

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.” –

We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.- Theodore Roosevelt

ANTARCTICA

AFRICAN SAFARI

The weekend we visited, President Bush’s Incredible paintings, from his touring tribute were on display. It was so cool to walk through the gallery and see all the paintings of war veterans, and hear some of their stories!

We could have spent WAY more time in the museum, but we headed to the aquarium since we only had a couple more hours we could explore.

THE AQUARIUM

The aquarium has 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, which represent more than 80 different species. There was even an area where you could pet stingrays! We didn’t realize how big both sections of the museum were, so when we visit again, we will make sure it is a full day activity.  I took so many pictures, but these were some of my favorites, and the pictures definitely don’t do this place justice!

 

You can even swim with sharks! I had a friend that did this for her birthday. There were a couple people who were in the tank while we were walking past and i’m sure it would definitely be a cool experience, but I’m fine being a bystander.

“Just keep swimming… just keep swimming… swimming… swimming…” Hey Dori!

The Flamingos

Morris hopes to inspire a younger generation of conservationists who might not otherwise experience such varied natural environments. A portion of the wildlife galleries highlights various conservation challenges and success stories, such as the sad-then-uplifting history of the American buffalo, which white settlers once hunted to near extinction. “Hopefully kids like it, and we can influence them to be good stewards of our wilderness,” he says. Even if you’re dopey enough to yell at a stuffed muskox, you’re going to learn something.

I suggest making a day of the museum and aquarium! There is so much to see and do and there are lots of amazing extras for families to participate in. Grab your tickets today and enjoy this wonderful experience with the whole family! It is a definite must see!

http://www.wondersofwildlife.org/explore/aquarium.html

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