Bass Pro Shops just opened a mega wildlife attraction, and CNBC got a look inside


It’s been a wild couple of weeks for Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who just last week completed a $4.5 billion acquisition of rival outdoor retailer Cabela’s.

Around the same time, former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, along with a boatload of actors, country western stars and outdoor enthusiasts, helped Morris celebrate the opening of his 350,000-square-foot Wonders of Wildlife (WOW) National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.

“It’s been like a whirlwind,” Morris told CNBC a day before the museum opened. Morris started his business in 1972, selling fishing gear out of a corner of his father’s Springfield, MO liquor store.

Fast forward to the present day, and “two of the biggest things in my life are happening at once,” he added. “It was not by design, I’ll tell you that.”

It took more than 10 years to complete the 350,000-square-foot WOW compound adjacent to the sprawling Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters, about an hour’s drive from Branson. CNBC recently took a tour of the facility, which is billed as being larger than even the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

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