Wilhelma is where Thor hangs out on the weekends.
Another delicious Hotel breakfast filled with what we now call “Stuttgart Pancakes” in Oregon. I left the nerd Bear to his nerdy things & I hopped on the U14 subway train out to Wilhelma. Wilhelma is the Stuttgart City Zoo & Botanical Garden, which was originally built as a royal palace & then after some special animals shows they kept the animals. Presto-Change-O now it’s a Zoo!
At the ticket counter (a pavilion originally built as a scenic viewpoint for the Neckar River) I tried out my phrase, “Verstehen sie Englisch?” A phrase I practiced before our trip with my German audio review podcast, it means, “Do you understand English?” The lady promptly changed seats with her co-worker & I spoke in English with a woman who sounded exactly as American as I did. Yeah for Europe! Walking into the Zoo I saw a beautiful pond full of creepy flamingos being sketched by some very brave German artists.This is the trunk of the giant sycamore tree that I hid behind while taking pictures of the German artists in the wild. It’s absolutely covered in little painted hearts full of love notes. “Que romantico!” (How romantic!) Speaking of romantic, come take a turn about the Moorish-style gardens with me. I absolutely needed a snappy steampunk outfit to fit in with my impressive surroundings instead of my t-shirt & blue jeans. Unexpectedly I came across a longtime friend from home halfway across the world.How do you do Mrs. Peacock? I see you are out enjoying the beautiful German sunshine today. (Jenny Peacock or Clue reference.) Ok ok! I know that is a MALE peacock, but he’s just so pretty. Look at that Peacock Blue.
It would have been amazing to have wedding photographs, or any kind of photo shoot here. I spied the same tall, hanging flowers (orange this time) in the zoo that I first admired in Höhenpark Killesberg near the carousel with the retro music playing & the robot/insect-looking tower. I had to see inside this “glasshouse” as it’s described on the zoo site, which sounds much more refined than just calling it a greenhouse. The tan striped building in the middle is called the Moorish Villa. Ponds & sculpted shrubbery, what’s not to admire? It was all so peaceful & beautiful. Not another soul in sight anywhere. Then I turn around & my eyes fall upon these glorious statues (pictured below) in all their violent majesty. These stone sculptures are in the middle of a zoo/botanical garden, a place where school children frequent & are encouraged to frequent to view animals. Live animals. I adore these statues & I love that they are exactly not what we would do in the States. (Note my reaction in the first picture of this post.)Although the sun was shining in the big blue sky it was still early spring & it wasn’t hard to convince myself to go indoors. Especially if “indoors” is warm & humid, just like Oregon! The long building had 5 different sections with glass doors separating each. The Cactus Cupola, Tropical crop plants, Tropical ferns, & tree ferns. This furry plant (below) was irresistible to me. I have spent way too much time staring at this plant (in person & through this photograph) with it’s slender green parts emerging from it’s hairy regions. (Why does that sound SO suggestive?)Seriously. Architecture people! I recognized some of the plants, but here in the glass house they were gigantic. Many of the plants were growing right out of the porous stone walls. I officially give permission for this kind of wall in my house.
I know it’s actually a Moroccan sort of style, but it also felt very steampunk with all the cast iron gears & glass. The building below on the right is called “The Belvedere” Italian for beautiful view. This staircase has a twin staircase to the left curving up the opposite direction in a totally symmetrical appealing sort of way.There actually were other people around, but who needs them messing up my photographs? In the glass house there was a German Dad with his two kids. The smaller of the two kids was riding on the Dad’s shoulders all through the building making him duck under doorways. Near the staircase were a group of older German people taking a break on some picturesque benches. Thanks to them hanging around we have no pictures of said benches.
Who needs animals in a Zoo anyway when you can have these brilliant buildings, glass houses & gardens?
Since you insisted, I have included pictures of the monkey cages, which were on two different terraces & some were covered in elegant purple Wisteria. Other monkey cages (ironically) had Monkey Puzzle trees planted right next to them. It was then that I found my own serene bench & decided to take a break under this artistic ivy covered arch. On second glance I saw another violent statue to admire. This time it’s a stag taken down by a couple of wolves. Soon after admiring the violent animal sculptures I found my way to real live animals at last. They had Cheetah, Otter & Justice Biber (a crime fighting Beaver). Nothing quite like having a beaver friend fall asleep on your leathery soft beaver tail. There were tons of animals, but really nothing everyone hasn’t seen a million times in nearly any zoo anywhere. Honorable mention Eisbar (Polar Bear), snowy white owl (Hedwig), Chimpanzee baby, adorable tiny Pygmy Marmosets with striped tails, Jellyfish (jelly fish), various kinds of fish & reptiles. I’ll spare you those pictures, but you will have to endure additional landscape & garden pictures.The top picture above is a view of Stuttgart from the top tier of the garden. The squarish tower in the middle is the Moorish Banquet Hall where you can rent a room for conferences, the Damascene Hall (not pictured) is the one recommended for Weddings.
Before walking into the next animal exhibit I had been sure that the Elephanten was my favorite animal, however it only took one look at the bumpy, armored backside of the Rhinozeros to change my mind. Seriously, I was so excited to do a selfie with the Rhino I forgot to look at the lens of my camera. They had benches in this building & so there I sat for a silly amount of time watching people watching animals. The teenage boys were excitedly taking cell phone pictures because the Rhino was pee shooting. Literally shooting it’s pee. That’s what those two very dark rust stains are on the sides of it’s enclosure. From where the Rhino is standing in the picture with the teenage boys it was pee shooting to that stain on the left. Look at that beautiful Rhino face! It makes me think of dinosaur faces exactly.
& then a moment later the German Zookeepers were kissing with the Rhinozeros photobombing in the background. After kissing it’s time to get down to
Dinosaur Rhino poop testing. Now you know why I sat around there for so long. So much Zoo drama!
The elephants were interesting to watch for a couple of reasons. It was really entertaining the way they use their trunks to suck up water & then snort it into their mouth. They had a square hole above the pen where the keepers fed the elephants hay (or hay like stuff). Once they had pulled most of the hay down the elephants would then take a deep breath & blow air out of their trunks & up into the feed space where all the stray hay would come whooshing down on top of their furry heads. Some of it ended up down on the floor where the elephants would carefully pick up the hay pieces & tuck them into their mouths. Speaking of dinosaurs, eventually I did move on to the reptile house. Selfie time! In the bottom selfie I was trying to replicate that classic crocodile smile. The top selfie is with an alligator. Can you tell the difference between an Alligator & a Crocodile? I thought I had it down myself until I looked it up, now I’ve just confused myself all over again. This albino boa constrictor reminded me of the one they had in my science classroom in the 8th grade. I can’t remember the name of this last little lizard, but I shall call her squishy. Her little lizard facial scales were irresistible to me. What I’m not sharing are the 500+ other pictures I took of Squishy. You’re welcome.I had an ice cream treat, since it warmed up outside, & looked over the souvenir trap kiosk. Nothing tempted me to buy there (other than the ice cream sandwich) & so I headed back toward the exit. Near the zoo exit was a glass house I had passed on the way in that was at least a quarter of a mile long. I wasn’t too tired to have a look inside & that’s where I found these gigantic honeysuckle flowers. They also had a large oval Koi pond & another section had a flock of a million tiny birds. I made the mistake of walking out an exit that happened to be locked on the outside, which is why there are no tiny bird pictures. I was not walking another .25 of a mile for bird pictures.My stomach told me it was drawing closer to lunch time, but I delayed again for the sake of the Zoo gift shop. I wandered around & avoided the usual animal-related toys looking for things specifically German to take home to my friends & family. In a far corner they had an entire display of Stuttgart & Germany miniature plates & tiny Cuckoo clocks. Perfect! It was about this same time that I noticed a sort of intimidating man in his 40’s (ish) standing around near me. I left that display to wander a little more before deciding on a purchase & this same guy appeared in my same area of the gift shop again. It suddenly dawned on me that he worked for the shop & was watching me for shoplifting. Seriously! I was both thrilled to have this new experience in a foreign country & annoyed that it happened to me at all. I realized all these feelings while staring this guy full in the face. I immediately left without buying anything from the gift shop.
I consulted my trusty paper map & headed toward town where food inevitably must be found, but I encountered a castle instead. (Next post)