The Wilhelma, Stuttgart
N 48° 48.244 E 009° 12.493
32U E 515289 N 5405696
Quick Description: Germany's unique zoological-botanical gardens, one of the most beautiful of its kind in Europe, was built from 1842 - 1853 for King Wilhelm I of Wuerttemberg as a Moorish garden.
Location: Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Date Posted: 11/21/2006 10:50:08 AM
Waymark Code: WMZA7
On permanent exhibit are around 9,000 animals of almost 1,000 species, exemplary facilities and greenhouses which are open to the public, important collections of orchids, large magnolia grove, aquarium with crocodile hall and famous coral fish collection, modern ape house, bear facilities, walk-in bird free flight facility, demonstration farm with petting enclosure. With ca. 1.8 million visitors a year, one of the most visited sights in Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The park can be visited until nightfall - at latest until 8:00 p.m.
The buildings were constructed in 1850 by Karl-Ludwig von Zanth under the directions of King Wilhelm I. of Württemberg as a "summer-house with living quarters and decorative glasshouses in Moorish style".
Since those times exotic plants have been cultivated there, but it was not until after the destruction in the Second World War that the park was developed into a zoological-botanical garden. Today Wilhelma, with its 10,000 animals of almost 1000 species, is one of the zoos with the largest amount of animal species in Germany, giving a cross-section through all the climatic zones of the Earth. Also of great value is the plant collection, with around 5000 species. In the rhythm of the seasons the face of the park constantly changes, daily offering new impressions.
Its ape and monkey-keeping is famous the world over. Four species of great apes live in family groups with lots of offspring. The animal nursery now serves Europe-wide as a kind of "kindergarten" when - as the exception to the rule - it is necessary to hand-rear the little ones. But you can see here how chickens hatch and grow up, too. In the house next door spider monkeys gibbons and javan langurs perform their acrobatics.
The area for African hoofed animals, with its 12 outdoor compounds, is a focal point of the upper part of the Wilhelma grounds. There you can find giraffes, okapis, zebras, the rare Somali wild ass, ostriches and various species of antilope, for instance bongos.
Lions, tigers, leopards, Indian elephants, the primeval-looking Indian rhinoceros, the strange-looking babirusas from Sulawesi (Celebes Island), hippos and Malayian tapirs are, of course, also to be found at Wilhelma.
Old, endangered breed of domestic animal live at the "Schaubauernhof" (farm), alongside their wild ancestors. There are, for example, wild boar next to the Schwäbisch-Hall pigs, or bezoar goats and the tiny West-African goats, which you can also stroke and feed in the area where this is expressly allowed. Amongst other animals, camels, Przewalski’s horses, European bison and Mesopotamian fallow deer have also found a new home here.
One attractive outdoor paddock has animals from South America such as alpacas and vicunas. Furthermore the largest rodents of the world, the capybaras, are to be found here, as well as Patagonian cavies, nandus and giant anteaters.
Opposite the South America paddock, maned wolves and spectacled bears are at home in the new compound for bears and mountain animals. In this exceptional complex, which copies a mountain landscape, the individual enclosures are not divided by fencing - the different kinds of animal are separated by moats which are not visible to the visitor. Syrian brown bears have found their home in this new compound, but polar bears, beavers and otters also live here and can be observed through underwater windows. In addition there are snow leopards, markhor goats, mountain goats and Alpine ibex.
Below the conifer valley with its coniferous trees and the wonderful collection of rhododendrons, one can discover the aviaries for birds of prey, embedded in the growth of the hill slope. Griffon vultures and sea eagles regularly rear their young here.
One of the highlights of a visit to Wilhelma is the world-renowned aquarium. From a Black Forest brook via the landscape of an Asian River to a South Sea island, details from nature are here on show. From the most inconspicious little local fish to the rainbow-hued coralfish and from the tiny poison-arrow frog to the crocodile, animals from all areas of the world inhabit the aquarium. Not even the king penguins from the Antarctics are missing.
In the house for nocturnal animals, those animals have found a home who usually only come out at night. By means of a time-shift it is more or less dark here at visiting time. Thinking it is night, flying foxes, mouse lemurs, mouse deer, lantern fish from the Red Sea and Chinese giant salamanders are all busy. In the insectarium one can find spiders, scorpions, butterflies and beetles. A colony of bees and the fungus-producing leaf-cutting ants can be observed as they go about their business.
In walk-through aviaries birds fly free and goldeneyes and other ducks dive in the waves. Right next to them you can find birds of the African savannah. Scarlet ibises are spots of colour among the bushes. Blackfooted penguins now waddle and red kangaroos jump in new enclosures here.
The Amazon House has meant a huge step forward for the world of botany. Over an enclosed area of 1200 square metres, in a magnificent man-made rocky landscape one can observe plants and animals from the upper Amazon rainforest. In the lush greenery of kapok and mahogany trees, assai palms, the snake-wood tree, the powder-puff tree and bananas, howler monkeys live, with white-faced sakis, golden lion tamarins and the like. Free-flying birds such as sunbittern, jacanas, tanagers and humming-birds fill the virgin forest. In the pool beneath a thundering waterfall are caymans and various species of fish from the Amazon. At the appropriate temperatures and humidity, the visitor really gets an impression of this endangered habitat. The following open enclosure is the home of the lively coatis.
Also of great value is the plant collection, with around 5000 species, and in the rhythm of the seasons the face of the park undergoes constant change, offering new impressions nearly every day.The botanical year at Wilhelma begins as the orchids bloom - we have approx. 5000 plants to look after. Those with the most beautiful flowers are displayed in two glass cases in the greenhouse for tropical plants. Camellias and azaleas, each represented by over 30 types, are the next to blossom in their appropriate greenhouses. Many of these plants and shrubs date back to the very beginnings of the park. They are now well over 150 years old and are therefore real botanical treasures.
Blossomtime in Europe's largest magnolia grove is unique, and the thousands of tulips and narcissi in the park's large beds are magnificent. During the summer, when the 650 square metres of the water lily pond are heated to 30°C, the tropical waterlilies and lotus flowers conjure up the magic of a tropical garden. The blossoming of the hundreds of thousands of summer flowers brings Wilhelma's botanical year to a close.
Further botanical highlights are the succulents and the fuchsias, 200 kinds of which flower during the summer season. Starting with the liverworts, via the club mosses and horsetails to the ferns, tree-ferns and primitive coniferous plants, in one cold and one warm glasshouse many lower vascular plants are cultivated. And a cross-section from the multitude of tropical useful plants is also shown: coffee, carambolas, papayas, cotton and many others. The pivot between the old and the new sections of the park is formed by the subtropical terraces. There are 35 aviaries there for parrots and an enclosure for squirrel monkeys, all surrounded by a myriad of subtropical plants. Because this area is south-facing, citrus trees grow here, as well as olives, fig trees and kiwi plants, all of which bring out a crop of ripe fruits every year. Palms, bananas, cypresses and magnolias complete the scene. Those plants that are sensitive to frost are, however, taken indoors in the frueer.
Zoo Website address: [Web Link]
Admission Cost: 12.00 (listed in local currency)
Please tell us a story about your visit to the zoo and the date of your visit. Additional photos, especially animals, are appreciated, but not required.