Thursday, May 4, 2023

Wild Kingdom


Maybe there was a theme - albeit unintentional - for our latest road trip. In the last blog, I referenced Randy's childhood fascination with dirt moving as motivation for our visit to Big Brutus in southeast Kansas.

The second day of our expedition took us to Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. Another of Randy's childhood favorites was TV's Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. (He may still watch some of the old episodes if he's in charge of the TV remote and inexplicably flipping between channels.) 

The museum and aquarium is located next to Bass Pro Shops national headquarters in Springfield, Mo. It opened in September 2017.

Johnny Morris is the founder of Bass Pro. While many Bass Pro shops have wildlife taxidermy and displays scattered throughout their stores, this is much larger. The 350,000-square-foot museum includes 1.5 miles of immersive trails to explore through 4D exhibits. In addition, it features an aquarium with 1.5 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater habitats with 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds representing more than 800 species.

Tucked among the hand-painted dioramas serving as a backdrop for taxidermied creatures, there are messages about conservation and appreciating nature.

In truth, we depend on all of the creatures in this world. For in order to survive, we humans must consume plants and animals - life must be taken so that we may live. It is only with this awareness that we learn humility and find balance. Our lives need to be in a circle, not in a square, not a straight line.
--Black Elk 

Whenever, in the course of the daily hunt, the red hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful and sublime - a black thunder cloud with the rainbow's glowing arch above the mountain; a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge; a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of sunset - he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, since to him, all days are God's.
--Ohiyesa, Wahpeton Dakota

I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man. 
--Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

One of the Morris' missions is to share his passion for wildlife with a world that is increasingly disconnected from the great outdoors.  

Throughout the wildlife galleries and aquarium, visitors can see species from all seven continents and five oceans.


My favorite part was the aquarium. I loved watching the penguins ...

 ... and the jellyfish.


There were plenty of other fishes, too.

We could have dived with the sharks, but we declined.  

A team of nearly 50 biologists and professional animal care staff work to provide care to the animals. This includes diet preparation, preventative care, routine health exams, habitat maintenance and enrichment.  

We watched a diver feed and interact with fish.

Wonders of Wildlife partners with more than 40 national conservation organizations on initiatives including advocacy, research, education, habitat restoration and public lands access. 

There will be more from our 2,150-mile road trip in the next several blogs. Randy isn't the only one to explore childhood passions on this trip.


  1. It seems like you could spend days enjoying this massive, amazing complex. I too would have spent a lot of time watching those penguins. The video is so clear to watch.

    1. They were definitely my favorite, and it was fun to watch the children gathered around who were delighted in the antics, too.