Stuttgart Wilhelma Zoo – a must see if you are going any where near Stuttgart

My friend, BGM, from back home had a business meeting in Stuttgart in June.  Since it was a reasonable 2.5 hour drive from our village I told him I would make every effort to go see him while he was here in Germany.  I’m so glad we were able to make it.  It was a really fun day trip for me, the girls and my mom.

The internet said it would be a little less than 2.5 hours to drive one way.  I figured it would take us 3 with stops having to deal with children.  It took us a little longer than 3 hours because we ran into all of the road construction happening in Germany on our way over.  It was delay after delay.  Because it took so long my mom and I almost decided to NOT go to the zoo because we wouldn’t have much time before we had to meet BGM.  I was thinking it might not be worth the money for the entrance fee for a short 1.5 hours in the zoo.

I. Was. Wrong.

This zoo is beautiful.  You MUST go see the Wilhelma.  It is actually not a traditional zoo.  It is a botanical garden wrapped around and intertwined with a fantastic zoo.  They have exotic plants and animals.  And the grounds — the gardens, oh my goodness — are just immaculate and gorgeous.  No wonder it was a private retreat for kings in days past.  The architecture of the zoo/botanical garden is Moorish as this was the “in” style at the time.  I really like Moorish influenced architecture.  I like the detail and symmetry and ornamentation and the domes that are prevalent in that style.  Unfortunately, during the war a lot of the historic buildings were destroyed beyond repair because of the bombings.  Some were restored.  Some were rebuilt in the style.

All of the glass greenhouse buildings for the different climates are similar to this one.  Ornate metal and glass work.  Beautiful.

I had to keep telling Big Ive to stay away from these little fountains when we walked by only to walk past a couple moms and their toddlers putting their feet in one because the day was so warm.
I would have NEVER thought to do that on purpose.  The water was a little too green for me.  I like my water nicely chlorinated in pools.

I really like this shot.  The differences between the smooth cool grey and the bright spiky green.

We first walked through a number of botanical gardens representing different parts of the world.  It was a hot muggy day in Germany and we walked into the desert building first.  Of course it would be a hotter house than the outside!  Take a look at these incredible barrel cactus.  I have never seen prettier fuzzy barrel cacti in my life.  Growing up in the desert and I had to go to Germany to see  beautiful cacti.  Go figure.  : )

Then we wandered through the rest of the buildings.  One had a little koi pond with these GIANT koi fish.  They made LOML’s big koi in our little pond look like miniatures.

Little E was cooing and pointing at the koi here.

There was a building full of orchids.  I have never seen that many different varieties of orchids ever.

There were peacocks running around the park freely.  I squawked at one and it squawked back loudly and started following us.  I thought I remembered they could be a little on the mean side so we quickly got away from it before it could let us know if it was nice or not.  Not taking chances with the girls so close.

Can you see this one?  He was trying to hide from us in plain sight.

We saw exotic birds.  I squawked at one of those, too, so it would talk back to us.  The girls seemed to like it.

Some of my conversations with my children might be described as squawking, too, so I’m sure all of the Germans thought we were just loud squawking US tourists.  Oh, well.  When you find something that works, go with it.  Right?

Mountain goat animals.  I think.

Then we saw the elephants, okapi, giraffe, and finally had to stop for ice cream.  It was a hot day, remember?

Right as she slopped some on her shirt.

My mom got some good video clips of the girls eating the cold ice cream.  Little E was confused about it.  She didn’t appear to like the intense cold, but once she started to taste the sweet ice cream she really liked it.  Big Ive didn’t hardly even eat all of the ice cream sticking out above the cone before I had to trick her into giving it to me so I could stealthily throw it away.  I felt bad about throwing so much away but I couldn’t even finish mine so there was no way I would be able to eat the rest of hers.

There was a water fountain in a small courtyard by the ice cream shop.  A handful of kids were playing in it.  When Big Ive finally was done with her ice cream the water had been shut off.  It was kind of sad.  I was actually getting ready to fill our drinking water bottles with the water and then it was off.  Sad.

Check out this monkey exhibit.  There are no walls or ceiling.  They surrounded their play structure by water.  How cool is that?

Flamingos that greeted us on the way in and out.  Pretty pale pink birds.

We drove to see BGM at his hotel for dinner.  I had plans of going back into the city center to walk around, but the drive out of the city to get to his hotel took twice as long as it should due to rush hour traffic that we just went to the restaurant across the street.  The girls were not on the best behavior at supper, but we ate early and only 3 other tables had people, most of whom seemed amused at my children running around.

It was a really fun day.  I’m so glad BGM came to Germany and had an evening to spend with us.  I’m glad we had to go see the Wilhelma.  We are planning on going back as a family one Saturday and spending more time in the zoo and getting to see the city center walk platz.

Little E fell asleep before we were out of the hotel parking garage and I think Big Ive was asleep before we got to the autobahn.  My mom and I used the limited maps in our Germany guide books to go a different way than the GPS suggested.  We only argued with her for about 15 miles and made it home in about 2.5 hours.

It was late.  We were tired.  But it was a good day.

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