The reason we had traveled to Stuttgart was for some training The Hubs was attending. The kids and I had the days to ourselves to travel around and site-see. I did some brief research of the area prior to leaving and was disappointed that just about everything I wanted to do (museums and palaces) were either closed for the winter or closed on Monday. So, when Monday morning rolled around I still had no plans. On top of that, the weather was pretty crummy. Cold, rain, and possible snow was our forecast.
I toyed with the idea of taking the kids to an indoor fun park, but we can do that at home. I wanted to see/do something new. Eventually I found the website for Wilhema, the Stuttgart zoo. It was open on Monday’s, and from looking at their website, it seemed that there were several indoor exhibits, in case the weather got bad.
So, after a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we bundled up and headed for the zoo! It took me about an hour longer to reach the zoo than I had anticipated (The Hubs had taken Susan – aka TomTom – aka the GPS) to help him get to his training, which left me with navigating via my handy (cell phone), not an easy task to do in an unfamiliar place. The map app was laggy and Alpha did her best to read me directions as we went. I often missed turns and would spend 5-10 minutes trying to get back to where I needed to be. It was an adventure and we were able to see more of Stuttgart because of it (there’s always a bright side!).
We eventually made it to the zoo, parking was easy – it was, after all, a drizzly Monday. We purchased our (reasonably priced – I think they were 15 EUR for all four of us) tickets and were off.
(You’ll soon come to realize that I can never get a photo with all three of my children smiling, let alone looking at the camera at the same time.)
I’ve lost track of how many zoo’s I’ve been to where the opening “attraction” is a pond of flamingos. Is there some unknown zoo-layout rule that insists on this? After a quick “Hallo!” we started to head further into the zoo. A light drizzle had started and we ducked into the aquatic building. It was quite impressive and much larger than I had thought when I saw the building from the outside. I didn’t take too many photos inside. No polarizing filter, which would have made for nasty glass reflections. But I did manage one that turned out alright. Funny how it’s of something you can see in every pet store! One of our favorite exhibits in here was the electric eel. There were lights and a zapping noise that indicated the electricity coming from the eel. We stayed and watched it for a while, the kids really got a kick out of it.
I liked the layout of this zoo. I have been to some where you end up doubling back too much to get to everything you want to see. This zoo had wide, paved pathways, and was sectioned on terraces, with gentile slopes and short flights of stairs in between (everything did appear to be handicap accessible, depending on the route you took). Most of the zoo could be seen by zig-zagging your way through the different areas without having to retrace your steps.
You can see from these pictures how grey our day was. The kids were troopers though and didn’t complain about the weather. We had brought an oversized umbrella with us, so even when we were caught outside in the rain, we were able to stay dry and not have to dash for cover. The grounds were beautiful, in spite of the weather and season. I can only imagine how spectacular they would be in the spring and summer.
Animals outside taking shelter from the weather. It seemed to me that the zoo is going through a period of renovation. When we arrived there was construction around the entry. The gift store was new-ish and several of the exhibits, particularly for the apes and monkeys, were new and modern, with technology and interactive displays. Though there were many, like these, that seemed a bit too small and older. Hopefully more of the animals will be getting updated digs.
We made our way to the back of the zoo; along the way looking at tigers and leopards, gorillas, bonobos, reptiles, rhinos, hippos, zebras, antelope, and many more. We found a place to stop for a quick lunch. Refueled. Then, just as we were finishing up, the wind picked up, the sky got dark, and it started snowing in big wet clumps. I had no idea how long the storm would last and I didn’t want to sit in the cafeteria until it passed. So once again, we donned our coats, grabbed the umbrella, and headed out.
Beta and Charlie loved it and were giddy running around in the falling slush. I became a bit concerned when we heard a few claps of thunder. By now it was around 2:30. We started to head back down the hills, to the entrance/exit. I didn’t want to have to drive in this stuff if I didn’t have to. Then, just like that, it was over.
I love botanical houses. This one was even more special because at one point, we walked below ground to view a nocturnal animal exhibit. Alpha was extremely happy because they have a large bat section. She was finally able to see Flying Foxes in person (a mild obsession). About this time though, Charlie announced that she had to go to the bathroom – bad. So we darted out and went in search of a bathroom.
Thankfully we found one, on the other side of this garden and the back of the aquatic house. While she was in the bathroom, I took a brief moment to pop out and take some photos of the garden area.
(Ah, if only tilt-shift lenses were less expensive and quick to use.)
When we had first entered and briefly looked at a map of the zoo, Beta had expressed his desire to see the penguins. The whole day I kept telling him that we would find them. About half-way up the zoo, we had stopped to look at another map, and that was when I saw that the penguins were back at the beginning. So, we made them our last stop before leaving. They were fun to watch and you could have touched them if you had dared (much to their chagrin, I wouldn’t let the kids do it).
Getting back to our hotel was much easier to do than getting to the zoo had been. We had had a great day and were tired from our excursion. We spent the evening resting up and getting ready for the next day.