Worth the Drive From Big Cedar Lodge

Museum spotlights natural wonders

BY JOSH SENS — Spring 2018

he splendors of our planet are far too vast and varied to showcase them all under a single roof, but Big Cedar Lodge’s Johnny Morris has given it a darned good go at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, about an hour drive north of Big Cedar. Next door to Bass Pro Shops’ world headquarters in Springfield, Mo., in a spacious, 6-month-old facility, Morris has gathered up a Noah’s ark collection of species great and small, and re-created their natural environments around them.

Wandering the corridors and trails here — they extend for more than 1.5 miles — brings you face to face with more than 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Many make their home in a 300,000-gallon circular aquarium, brimming with rays, eels, jellyfish, and sharks. Among the array of immersive galleries are painstakingly detailed 4-D dioramas that capture the sights, sounds, and smells of exotic animal encounters, from wildebeests battling crocodiles to musk ox fending off a pack of wolves.

Other highlights include educational and interactive exhibits — so that’s what a stingray feels like — and the world’s largest taxidermy collection of record-setting big-game animals, such as antelope, bear, bison, caribou, and elk. In a single visit you’ll only scratch the surface of a world that could captivate you for days. wondersofwildlife.org

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