Springfield’s ‘Wonders of Wildlife’ selected as contestant for America’s Best Aquarium for fifth year

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – USA Today is once again running a contest for “America’s Best Aquarium” and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium (WOW) has been nominated for the fifth year.

The 1.5-million-gallon aquarium has won “America’s Best Aquarium” all four times it has been selected as a contestant, and was chosen as “America’s Best New Attraction” in its grand opening year of 2017. 

“We are honored that Wonders of Wildlife has been nominated again for ‘America’s Best Aquarium’,” Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist Johnny Morris said in a press release. “This is another great opportunity to spread awareness of our conservation efforts and to connect people of all ages with the great outdoors.

“We’re grateful for all our visitors and members and for every one of our passionate volunteers, team members and all our conservation partners who help us inspire future conservationists. Your vote for Wonders of Wildlife is a vote for conservation!”

WOW’s newest exhibit is called Nature’s Best, and features award-winning photography from the Windland Smith Rice International Awards.

The facility partners with respected museum collections and conservation supporters to expand exhibits and raise awareness for conservation efforts across the world. 

Currently, visitors can view exhibits from the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, American Museum of Fly Fishing and the Boone and Crockett Club, which educates visitors about the roles sportsmen and women play in conservation. 

In 2022, following a lengthy application process and onsite inspections, WOW received accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Fewer than 300 facilities nationwide have received the declaration. Accredited zoos and aquariums are dedicated to the highest standards of conservation, education and animal welfare. 

An AZA team visited the facility for an inspection in June 2022, and a panel of 16 experts in zoological and aquarium operations, veterinary medicine and animal welfare voted to accredit the attraction. Additionally, for a third year in a row WOW has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Turtles Fly Too to provide immediate and critical care for cold-stunned sea turtles before returning them to the wild. It is the only sea turtle rescue in the Midwest.

“These achievements would not be possible without the support of a phenomenal team,” Mike Daniel, director of animal care told The Heartlander. 

“We have a husbandry team that consists of talented, intelligent and passionate people. That expertise shines through when guests visit Wonders of Wildlife. I couldn’t be more proud of this team or of the message we send our guests home with every day – which is to become a steward of our natural resources.”

Fans and visitors can vote once a day until voting ends on March 6 at 11 a.m. CST.

To vote, click here.

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