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Grand re-opening of Wonders of Wildlife Museum is delayed again

The museum closed more than five years ago for renovations, which turned into a major construction project.

May 15, 2013|by Linda Russell, KY3 News | lrussell@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The chairman of the board of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum said Wednesday that its grand opening is now projected for the fall of 2014.   That's later than the date of January 2014 that was provided to reporters last November, a date that was later changed to "spring 2014" on WOW's website.

WOW Board chairman Rob Keck spoke to Rotary Club and Rotaract Club members from Springfield and Ozark at a lunch at the White River Conference Center on Wednesday.  He said the continued delay in opening is caused by the complex nature of the construction project and the collection of wildlife that will be on display.

Wonders of Wildlife, which was formally known as the American National Fish and Wildlife Museum, opened in 2001 at the southwest corner of Campbell Avenue at Sunshine Street.  At that time, it was a nonprofit entity that received some state and local tax funds, along with private donations from Bass Pro Shops and its owner, Johnny Morris, who had the big vision for the project. 

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WOW closed for remodeling in 2007, with plans to re-open in a couple of years.  The museum is now privately operated and does not receive any tax funds.  When it reopens, it will be connected to Bass Pro Shops' Outdoor World store just to the south of it.

Keck was the chief executive officer of the National Wild Turkey Federation for nearly 30 years.  He now works for Bass Pro, and succeeded John Moore, a former president of Drury University, as chairman of WOW's board.

Keck told the Rotarians about plans to have more than 11,000 live fish and animals on display, with interactive exhibits, and unusual designs for fish tanks and animal enclosures that will bring visitors in closer proximity to the wildlife.  He also said the acquisition and housing of the fish and animals will soon proceed a little faster now that a noted wildlife expert from Australia, Alan Marshall, has been hired and will arrive in Springfield in about a month.

Keck said parts of the museum might have a "soft opening" by the summer of 2014 but the grand opening won't be until later.  The National Rifle Association Sporting Arms Museum, which will be above Bass Pro, is scheduled to have its grand opening this Summer.

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