Wilhelma, built as a royal palace, is now a zoo in the northern suburbs of Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is Europe’s only large combined zoological and botanical garden and is home to over 8,000 animals from over 1,000 different species and exotic plants from over 5,000 species. The upper section of the zoo includes an impressive stand of sequoia trees. The zoo immediately adjoins a public park to its west, laid out in the ‘English landscape style’ of rolling grass and informal groups of trees. In landscape terms this perfectly complements the landscape of the zoo.
The zoo is famous for keeping all four kinds of great apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas), all in families with offspring, as well as for its aquarium featuring animals and plants from all over the world. The botanical gardens contain Europe’s biggest magnolia grove. It was also the home of the polar bear Wilbär. As is common in many German zoos, barriers between spectators and animals are minimal. There is an extensive insectarium on the grounds. There are many types of insects grown and kept live for the public to see, including african colored scarab beetles, among many others. There are butterflies, spiders, millipedes, and several beetle species that are continually cultivated and kept living, by breeding generation after generation of the individual species of choice. A particularly unusual feature is the “hatchery” where chicks can be watched hatching and mother birds feed their chicks at very close quarters. The zoo has become a center for raising motherless apes from all over Europe.