Wonders of Wildlife announces reopening date

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (edited news release) – Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium today announced plans to reopen to the public beginning Saturday, May 23 after being closed over two months.

The world-class conservation attraction is implementing a number of new standard operating procedures based on best practices from aquarium industry leaders and public health officials in compliance with city guidelines. Limits on daily attendance and new timed-entry reservations for guests and members will allow for social distancing and enhanced surface cleaning efforts throughout the facility to ensure the health and safety of every guest, team member and animal in its care.

“We’re excited to welcome visitors back to Wonders of Wildlife to share the wonder of the natural world and bring some much-needed happiness to our community and our nation,” Bryan Nadeau, Vice President of Conservation Attractions at the Johnny Morris Conservation Foundation. “We’re grateful to our passionate animal care team for continuing to provide excellent care for our 35,000 live animals throughout the closure. From our back-of-house facilities to our enclosures and habitats, Wonders of Wildlife already provides the highest standard of care to protect the health and well-being of our wildlife every day, and our entire team has been working tirelessly to ensure we are ready to apply that same standard of excellence to safely accommodate guests under new operating guidelines.”

The temporary nine-week closure marked the first time the conservation attraction, which has been named, “America’s Best Aquarium” and “Best New Attraction” by USA TODAY, had closed since its September 2017 grand opening. Along with attendance limits and timed-entry reservations, the aquarium is implementing a series of health and safety initiatives including online-only ticket sales, touchless transactions, and enhanced cleaning methods.

The new health and safety measures are informed by local, state and national guidelines. In addition, The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, one of the country’s leading aquariums, provided support. The Florida Aquarium developed a comprehensive COVID-19 reopening plan and brought in the Infectious Disease Prevention team from Tampa General Hospital, a world-class academic medical center and infectious disease physicians from University of South Florida Health. On May 10th, The Florida Aquarium was one of the first aquariums in North America to reopen its doors to the public. The Florida Aquarium’s President and CEO Roger Germann, a longtime friend and admirer of Johnny Morris, and Andy Wood, Chief Operating Officer, recently toured Wonders of Wildlife and saw first-hand many of the specific guidelines and standards they are enacting to safeguard the public, staff and animals.

“We greatly appreciate Johnny Morris and his mission to connect more people with nature, I’m honored to help Johnny, Bryan, and the Wonders of Wildlife team help ensure they are taking all necessary steps to reopen safely and responsibly,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium, and a 20-year industry leader. “Wonders of Wildlife is a world-class aquarium, and the City of Springfield and our country is incredibly lucky to have such an incredible resource for conservation education as part of its community. Having walked through Wonders of Wildlife this morning, I know all guests who visit will feel safe, have fun and be blown away by this awe-inspiring experience.”

Specific new procedures at Wonders of Wildlife include:
Social distancing:
 Limiting guest attendance at any one time through timed-entry ticketing
 Requiring six feet of distance between tables and limiting parties to 10 or fewer
 Adding clear “sneeze guard” shields at all guest service locations
Housekeeping and sanitization:
 Installing additional hand sanitization stations throughout the attraction for guests and team members
 Sanitizing all common areas and hard surfaces with deep-cleaning disinfectants nightly and throughout
the day
 Providing all team members with personal protective equipment, including voluntary face coverings,
and responsibly practicing strong personal hygiene
Additional Modifications:
 Expanding operating hours to 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily to allow for social distancing
 Modifying interactive experiences and exhibits such as theaters, the Stingray Touch Pool, Sketch
Aquarium, and Penguin Encounter to allow for proper social distancing; Shark Dive will open June 1st
with extra sanitation precautions including equipment sterilization
 Temporarily closing confined spaces such as pop up bubbles and the swinging bridge

A complete list of all health and safety measures can be found at www.wondersofwildlife.org.

“Studies show that the bond between people and nature plays an important role in supporting public health. In today’s world, connecting people - especially kids - to nature is more important than ever,” said noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris. “We’re very grateful to our friend Roger Germann and his Florida Aquarium team for their countless hours of preparation to benefit our facility and community. With these new measures in place, we proudly invite everyone to come responsibly celebrate the power of the great outdoors, right here in the Ozarks.”

As thanks for their hard work and sacrifices to keep our community safe, Wonders of Wildlife will be announcing special offers for healthcare workers, first responders, active military and veterans to experience Wonders of Wildlife. Details will be announced as plans are finalized.

TIMED-ENTRY RESERVATIONS: Online-only ticket sales
To ensure adequate social distancing and create the best possible experience, all guests and members must reserve online timed-entry tickets prior to visiting Wonders of Wildlife. Visitors should go to www.wondersofwildlife.org where they can select the date and time of their visit. Once reserved, they will receive an email with their digital ticket that will allow touchless scanning at entry.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.