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Wonders of Wildlife will host a bevy of politicians, conservation leaders and musicians during a Sept. 20 gala, according to an invitation for the event.
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Wonders of Wildlife will host a bevy of politicians, conservation leaders and musicians during a Sept. 20 gala, according to an invitation for the event.

Presidents Bush, Carter plan to attend WOW debut

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An invitation to the private debut of Wonders of Wildlife indicates former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter will be among the featured guests.

The Sept. 20 gala at 500 W. Sunshine St. will honor former President George H. W. Bush, according to the invitation. George W. Bush and Carter are listed as the event’s co-chairmen with other guests including U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, and Gov. Eric Greitens, according to the invitation obtained by Springfield Business Journal.

Musical guests include Kevin Costner, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley, as well as a live feed of Kid Rock, according to the invitation. The event also will include fishermen Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston, NASCAR racers Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr. and hunters Jim and Eva Shockey, according to the invitation.

More than 400 conservation leaders are anticipated to attend the event, according to a news release from Bass Pro Shops. The release did not include the names of Bush and Carter. Bass Pro spokesman Jack Wlezien declined to confirm whether the former presidents would be in attendance.

The Sept. 20 gala begins with a preview tour of the museum and aquarium, followed by a dinner reception, ribbon-cutting ceremony and an event dubbed Concert for Conservation. The invitation also lists the gala as a fundraising event, with the option to make contributions to the nonprofit Wonders of Wildlife.

Wonders of Wildlife is scheduled to continue tours for conservation leaders, public officials and donors Sept. 21 before opening the attraction to the public the next day, according to the release.

Bass Pro also plans to close its flagship store attached to Wonders of Wildlife on Sept. 20 to prepare for the event. It’s scheduled to reopen Sept. 21.

The 350,000-square-foot Wonders of Wildlife includes a 1.5 million-gallon aquarium; more than a mile of trails and exhibits; 35,000 animals; 70,000 square feet of wildlife galleries and dioramas; and the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Adult tickets start at $40 for both the aquarium and museum.

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