The grand reopening of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum after a multi-million dollar renovation has been delayed again, but the owners of the Springfield operation are promising it will be worth the wait.
The museum was expected to open next spring, but that has been delayed until fall 2014. However, some portions will open to the public later this year, said Rob Keck, chairman of the museum's board.
Wonders of Wildlife first opened in 2001 but closed in 2007 for what was to be a $25 million renovation. Now, the privately-funded museum is in the midst of a 235,800-square-foot expansion at a cost of about $100 million, The Springfield News-Leader reported.
"Some people ask, 'What's taking so long?' Well, let me tell you, it's not like building an apartment complex," Keck said Wednesday while updating Springfield's Rotary clubs on project.
The expansion will include 1.1 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater aquariums, with more than 11,000 fish and animals drawn from 250 species and "about 1.7 miles of trail to go through in this museum," Keck said.
Keck said "significant progress is being made" on the renovation, which is intended to make the museum "long-lasting" and "the best it can be." He said one of the changes was making the museum's exterior capable of withstanding an F-4 tornado.
The current focus is on gathering the fish, animals and other materials needed for the various exhibits.