Wonders of Wildlife Museum Opening Draws Celebrity Crowd

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Johnny Morris’s latest creation, the 1.5-million gallon Wonders of Wildlife aquarium, opened with a splash Wednesday night, amidst a crowd of former U.S. Presidents, current political leaders and celebrities.

“Do I miss the Presidency?” former president George W. Bush joked to the crowd. “No, but I miss Air Force One. The plane Johnny sent was a little smaller.”

Former president Jimmy Carter and current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke were also in attendance, along with a cavalcade of stars from the world of country music and NASCAR like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan and Kevin Costner.

“It’s more than an attraction, really – it’s part of our country’s history,” Morris told reporters on Tuesday. “One thing that separates it from many museums, aquariums and even natural history museums is that we very proudly salute the hunters and anglers – the sportsmen and women of America.”

The 350,000-square foot museum not only features 1.5 million gallons of water, but also “4D” immersive experiences that place visitors in the environment of the animals on display. For instance, museum officials say, an arctic exhibit features wind and the smell of arctic tundra.

The new Wonders of Wildlife Museum has been in the works for nine years and opens to the public on Friday. Tickets range from $14.95-39.95.

Hear some of President Bush’s jokes in the video below, courtesy KY3 News Springfield.