The Wilhelma was constructed around 1850 for King Wilhelm I of Württemberg as a summerhouse and gardens. It was not until after the destruction of the old palace during World War II that the site was turned into a zoo and botantical garden. Some 8,000 animals of nearly 1,000 species now make the Wilhelma their home, along with a plant collection of over 6,000 species. Some of the plant specimens date to the Wilhelma’s earliest days, making them well over 150 years old.
At Evelyne’s insistence we headed first to the world-renowned monkey house, where they have an “ape kindergarten” of sorts, and watched four young gorillas playing with their keeper. Next we walked through the aquarium, which includes habitats ranging from a Black Forest stream to a
We strolled past more monkeys and bears on our way to the upper terraces, where we saw most of the common African animals. It was quite depressing to see them in a zoo after our safari experience. They looked very bored, and many were pacing back and forth in their enclosures. The polar bears were also pacing, and there were signs warning that they occasionally throw their “toys” (plastic traffic cones) at spectators.
We walked through some of the gardens on our way to the cafeteria – a self-serve place where we bought maultaschen and currywurst (a rather odd German dish consisting of sausage smothered in red chili sauce and paprika, usually accompanied by a healthy portion of french fries). We sat outside in the sun to eat our lunch, enjoying the beautiful weather – sunny but not too hot. Next we visited Oda’s favorite animals, the penguins, and then toured the expansive greenhouses, which include impressive collections of azaleas, magnolias, orchirds, succulents, and tropical species. The azaleas were in full bloom and were spectacular. It was nearing 3:00 by this time and we all decided we were pretty beat (I think John’s patience ran out after the first greenhouse!). Oda had done very well considering she had major knee surgery less than a month ago. We stopped for ice cream bars on our way out and then headed back to the car.
Evelyne invited us in for coffee when we got back but we had to decline since Cody needed his evening walk. (It’s a good thing too – with the way Evelyne and Oda talk, we would never have made it home before dark!) Oda asked John if he might be able to help her with a computer art assignment, so we picked her up on the way back from our walk. To make a long story short, Oda had constructed a snail out of a matchbox, wire, and string and now wanted to superimpose a photo of the snail onto various pictures she had gotten off the web, including the