Johnny Morris Convenes Leading Conservationists to Shape Immersive Conservation Attraction
Noted conservationist and Bass Pro shops founder Johnny Morris addresses conservation
Springfield, Mo. – More than 25 of the country’s leading conservation organizations are contributing to the creation of one of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world. Scheduled to open in Springfield, Missouri in 2016, Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will celebrate the critical role responsible hunting and fishing play in conserving the great outdoors.
A vision of leading conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris, the 315,000-square-foot experience is intended to inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. To help shape the attraction’s educational message and story, Morris convened a “who’s who” of conservation leaders in America. With expertise ranging from wetlands and waterfowl to coastal waters and international wildlife efforts, leading national conservation groups are collaborating to help tell the untold stories of the conservation movement in the United States and showcasing their worldwide impact.
Consisting of leaders from both nonprofit and government entities, the nationwide collaboration hopes to establish a new conservation capital that highlights past successes and shares important conservation messages with a national audience.
“This will be one of the foremost conservation attractions in the world,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There is a significant opportunity to reach millions of visitors about the importance of conserving, protecting and enhancing wildlife habitats.”
Convening Inspired by Historic Summit
Participants of the first North American Wildlife Conference in 1936
Morris first convened the leaders at a National Conservation Summit held in Springfield in late 2015. The gathering brought together more than 40 national conservation leaders to discuss fun and engaging ways to inspire the public to appreciate and protect wildlife and natural habitats.
The Summit was inspired by and paid homage to the nation’s first North American Wildlife Conference held in Washington D.C. in 1936. The original gathering, convened by Ding Darling, founder of The National Wildlife Federation, and President Theodore Roosevelt, brought together more than 2,000 hunters, anglers and conservationists from across the country to discuss conservation issues.
The original conference helped unify the nation’s conservation voices and shaped a national platform to advocate on behalf of the outdoors. Instilling the spirit of that gathering, Morris’ modern summit served as a forum to collectively discuss opportunities to educate and engage today’s public in conservation efforts centered at the new museum and aquarium. The group also shared thoughts on impactful educational programming for visitors of all ages, particularly children and families.
National Leaders Contributing to World-Class Attraction
National conservation leaders convene in Springfield, Missouri
Primarily funded and operated by the nonprofit Johnny Morris Foundation, Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1.3-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds and an immersive wildlife museum that highlights diverse habitats and wildlife from around the world.
Each of the 25 participating partner organizations is represented throughout the experience in a variety of ways. The groups are contributing historical photos, videos, multimedia content and artifacts to provide a widespread and engaging look into wildlife conservation practices. Experts from the groups are also assisting with the museum’s interpretive messaging and sharing their conservation success stories.
For example, the museum will become the new permanent home for The Boone and Crockett Club’s world-famous National Collection of Heads and Horns. The exhibit gives visitors a chance to see more than 40 historically significant North American game animals that helped spark America’s conservation movement when it debuted at New York’s Bronx Zoo in 1922. Additionally, The International Game Fish Association’s interactive Fishing Hall of Fame is relocating to the aquarium from the IGFA’s headquarters in Florida. The exhibit tells the stories of some of the sport’s most accomplished men and women.
Nearby, The National Archery Hall of Fame seeks to preserve the sport’s history and tradition with more than 1,500 artifacts including a handmade bow made by the Native American Apache leader Geronimo. By honoring the outstanding men and women in the sport, the experience sends a message that anyone can enjoy archery as a gateway to appreciating the outdoors. The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum showcases the development and evolution of hunting arms in America from colonial times to today. This educational gallery is one of the premier sporting arms museums in the world. Home to nearly one thousand artifacts the gallery tells the story of American icons such as Lewis and Clark and Theodore Roosevelt.
The result of these collaborations is a bold new attraction that leaves visitors with a powerful conservation message.
“We are honored to have the support and input from America’s leading conservation voices as we establish one of the most comprehensive conservation attractions in the world,” said Johnny Morris. “By highlighting the important roles these organizations play in conserving wildlife and sharing their accomplishments with our visitors, we hope to raise awareness of their work and recruit new members to engage in ongoing conservation efforts.”
America’s Conservation Capital
One of the aquarium’s immersive exhibits simulates an artificially created reef to underscore the importance of healthy habitats for fish and wildlife
Wonders of Wildlife is envisioned to be unlike anything else in the world. Inside the immersive aquarium adventure, visitors will encounter sharks, rays, jellyfish, eel, otters, turtles, sport fish and countless game fish such as largemouth bass and catfish as they travel through an elaborate trail system of distinct aquatic habitats, discovering hands-on activities that celebrate the diversity of all aquatic life, including incredible sport fish. The entire aquarium experience highlights the need to conserve these beautiful ecosystems and the animals that live there.
Completely immersive wildlife galleries transport visitors to the wildest places on earth through meticulously recreated 4D dioramas that include the realistic sights, sounds and smells of awe-inspiring habitats from North America, Africa and the Arctic.
The experience will celebrate the vital contributions of sportsmen and women to wildlife conservation and engages leading conservation partners to showcase important success stories and ongoing efforts.
The new experience is located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops’ iconic flagship store in Springfield, Missouri’s number one tourist destination that already welcomes four million visitors per year and further establishes Johnny Morris’ vision of creating America’s Conservation Capital and a new must-see destination for everyone who loves the outdoors.
Participating conservation and wildlife management organizations include:
Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies – Ron Regan, Executive Director
Boone and Crockett Club – Tony Schoonen, Chief of Staff
Center for Coastal Conservation – Jeff Angers, President
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation – Gary Kania, Vice President
Dallas Safari Club – Ben Carter, Executive Director
Ducks Unlimited – Dale Hall, President
International Game Fish Association – Rob Kramer, President
James River Basin Partnership – Joe Pitts, Executive Director
Missouri Department of Conservation – Bob Ziehmer, Director
Missouri Department of Natural Resources – Sara Parker-Pauley, Director
National Geographic – Crista Gibbons, Senior Director, Global Corporate Partnerships
Native American Fish and Wildlife Society – Fred Matt, Executive Director
National Audubon Society – Glenn Olson, Donal O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation through Advocacy & Public Policy
National Rifle Association – Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President & CEO
National Wild Turkey Federation – George Thornton, CEO
Ozark Water Watch – David Casaletto, President & Executive Director
Quality Deer Management Association – Brian Murphy, CEO
Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission – Stuart Leon, Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership – Whit Fosburgh, President & CEO
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Dan Ashe, Director
Watershed Committee of the Ozarks – Mike Kromrey, Executive Director
Wildlife Management Institute – Steve Williams, President & CEO
Wild Sheep Foundation – Buddy DuVall, Executive VP Development
About Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
Scheduled to open in 2016, the all-new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will be one of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world. Primarily funded and operated by the nonprofit Johnny Morris Foundation, Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1.3-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds, and an immersive wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. The 315,000-square foot experience celebrates the critical role responsible hunting and fishing plays in wildlife conservation and inspires visitors to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. Located on the campus of Bass Pro Shops’ iconic flagship store in Springfield, Missouri, Wonders of Wildlife further establishes the site as America’s Conservation Capital. For more information visit www.wondersofwildlife.org.