Wilhelma Zoo: Where the Peacocks Run Free

by William Wellman / Oct 24, 2013 /

Apparently gardens make really good zoos, though that’s no excuse to let the neighbor’s pets run through your flowerbeds. In the case of the Wilhelma Zoological Botanical Garden in Stuttgart, Germany (we just call it Wilhelma), it’s very true! The place was originally a park for the rich and privileged back in the day when royal families still ruled over Germany. Over the years since, it’s become a zoo of the highest quality, still retaining the lush greenery and care for nature that the original park possessed; oddly personified by the peacocks who range the park freely.

 

Peacock, Wilhelma Zoo, Germany

 

The park itself is massive; stretching out at over seventy-four acres. After six or seven trips, we’re still discovering new things to see and do, tucked away into the hidden corners and secret pathways we missed last time. The park has an incredible range of animals, but the unique layout keeps them all accessible. Some of the most interesting creatures can be found in ‘houses’ dedicated to that group of animals, which makes it easy to find specific attractions. Scattered throughout the park are the wide open ranges where you can find the larger characters at Wilhelma.

 

Elephant, Wilhelma Zoo, Germany

 

The first ‘house’, which you will find if you take a sharp left just after entering the gates, is one of the strongest reminders of the zoo’s history as a botanical center. You are placed on a small, winding path framed by exotic plants on both sides. As you walk the plant selection changes, fading gradually from the cactus and strange flowers of the desert, to the curling vines and odd trees of the jungle, to hanging orchids and ornate vegetation typical of a tropical climate.

 

Wilhelma Zoological Botanical Garden

 

Upon exiting the greenhouse path, you emerge into a large room with a gigantic glass ceiling filled with massive, very unusual trees of various kinds. They serve to frame a giant pond filled with fish, gleaming orange and gold. Look out for the door on the left, as it leads to one of the most memorable places in the zoo; a large room that on one side displays small tropical birds in huge glass terrariums filled with lush greenery, and on the other, a similar display allowing you to meet rodents from all over the world. Some of them are just full of character!

 

a new friend at Wilhelma

 

Another ‘house’ close by is the aquarium. I would say it’s filled with fish of all kinds, but that’s kind of what aquariums are for in the first place. However, I can without a doubt say this is one of the best aquariums I’ve seen on my travels. They have an eel in a large tank with a bar measuring his electric output, an incredible jellyfish display, and my favorite of them all, a very lively octopus.

 

Lively Octopus, Germany

 

A very recent construction is the newly renovated Gorilla house. The building is almost twice as large as the old one, not counting the massive jungle-like living area where the great apes can roam. It’s not hard to tell that the stars of the display appreciate the space to roam. It’s an incredible sensation to be just a few feet away from an animal so massive and full of personality as a gorilla; separated only by a few inches of glass from their bulk and power.

 

Gorilla House, Wilhelma

 

However, if I had to choose my favorite of all Wilhelma’s attractions, I would have to single out the reptile house. It’s joined to the aquarium, so it’ll be hard to miss! They have it all here: deadly snakes and cute tiny frogs; fearsome Gila Monsters and friendly chameleons. Off to one side there’s even an elevated platform overlooking a swampy pool where a couple crocodiles have taken up residence. You can find some very interesting creatures in this part of the park.

 

In the Reptile House, WIlhelma Zoo

 

All in all, Wilhelma is a fantastic zoo, different in tone than any other in Europe. It rivals the Bad Mergentheim Wildlife Park in dedication to creating habitats that feel organic and natural, and the Nuremburg Zoo in terms of quality and experience. There’s something in it for everyone, whether you be a family, group of friends, or simply a lone traveler. That something is these turtles, actually, but I’m sure you’ll find other things to enjoy as well!

 

Turtles at the Wilhelma Zoo

 

 

 

 

Will Wellman is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Will Wellman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (1)

  • Dylan DeMichiel

    7 years 8 months ago

    Another great article, William. I loved the pictures, especially the ones of the elephant and peacock. Your photos are amazing and they really made me feel like I was there. 8D

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