Closed Thanksgiving Day
23-Nov-2017Event: Thanksgiving Day -- Zoo and Museum CLOSED Date and Time: November 23, 2017.. Read More...
Christmas Lights Festival
Mann Museum Offers Family-Filled Fun22-Nov-2000 THE BAYONET (FT. BENNING, GA)
My youngest son got his hunting permit last week, and he's been counting the days till he could go hunting with his dad. It was supposed to happen Sunday after church, but the weather was just too rainy and cold. I could see the disappointment on his face, but I was secretly relieved. Does a mom ever get over the fear of her child with a gun? To make it up to him, I suggested we whet our appetites for big game at the Mann Museum in Opelika, Ala. Jacob was not enthused. When it comes to choosing a fun-filled family activity, museums rank somewhere between the doctor's office and the public library. We heard quite a bit of grumbling during the 40-mile drive, but it stopped the minute we pulled into the parking lot of the Mann Museum. "Dad, look! Those are real," Jacob said, pointing to a head of deer grazing near the museum. "And look it says we can feed them." Now if there's one thing Jacob likes better than hunting deer, its feeding them. Go figure. His enthusiasm didn't wane inside the museum, where he found "everything you can imagine, Mom." And indeed, there was 35,000 square feet, and more than 250 exhibits, of every kind of North American wildlife imaginable - bear (grizzly, brown, black and polar), moose, elk, caribou, skunk, fox, lynx, waterfowl, shark, and countless others. The museum is the fulfillment of a life-long dream for George P. Mann, an Opelika resident and nationally renowned outdoorsman. He's been an ardent conservationist and bow hunter all his life, and the Mann Museum and Outdoors, which includes a nature trail and animal sanctuary, is a testimony to Mann's desire to teach wildlife conservation through education. Mann spends about six months out of the year in the Alaskan wilderness. He's brought back some of the finest examples of big game ever taken with a bow and arrow, including a 10 and a half foot polar bear and the fourth largest grizzly ever killed with a bow. I've seen my share of taxidermy, but I was amazed at the artful and realistic way each exhibit is displayed. They're all prepared using real vegetation and rocks that are indigenous to the animal's natural habitat. In fact, Mann's gone that extra mile to make sure you feel you've happened upon these creatures in their own back yard. If you look real close at the "World's Biggest Deer" display, the Alaskan Moose, you'll even see moose droppings among the dried vegetation. Never mind that Mann back-packed the moose from the hinterlands to humanity, with a few native rocks and plants - what Jacob can't fathom is "how exactly did he get that poop here?" and "why?" We were all impressed with the Mann Museum, including my husband, who was admittedly a bit skeptical about spending a Sunday afternoon at a museum. The guys were most impressed with the larger mammals and the carnivores. The girls liked all the cute and cuddly animals and the hands-on "touch and feel" displays. I liked the artwork. The display murals were painted by a local artist, Anderson (Luster), who has an incredible gift for duplicating natural panoramas. And for those who think a wildlife museum isn't a refined cultural experience, Mann's included various bronze sculptures by Henry Inchumuk.