Wilhelma, built as a royal palace, is now a zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

 in the northern suburbs of Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It is Europe's only large combined zoological
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

 and botanical garden
Botanical garden
A botanical garden The terms botanic and botanical, and garden or gardens are used more-or-less interchangeably, although the word botanic is generally reserved for the earlier, more traditional gardens. is a well-tended area displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names...

 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
Sequoiadendron giganteum is the sole living species in the genus Sequoiadendron, and one of three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods, classified in the family Cupressaceae in the subfamily Sequoioideae, together with Sequoia sempervirens and...


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 Wilhelma was originally a royal palace, in Moorish Revival
Moorish Revival
Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that were adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental...

 style, and echoes such buildings as the Alhambra
The Alhambra , the complete form of which was Calat Alhambra , is a palace and fortress complex located in the Granada, Andalusia, Spain...

 Palace. Besides animals and plants, the Wilhelma is therefore also worth visiting for its architecture, which is intact from the mid-19th century.

After being closed to the public during World War II, Wilhelma was opened again in 1949 with an azalea show, followed by the "Great Aquarium Show." In 1951, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and penguins arrive as special exhibitions, but are kept after the exhibition ends, starting the animal collection. Elephants and tigers arrive in 1952.


The zoo is famous for keeping all four kinds of great apes (bonobo
The bonobo , Pan paniscus, previously called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee, is a great ape and one of the two species making up the genus Pan. The other species in genus Pan is Pan troglodytes, or the common chimpanzee...

s, chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

s, orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

s, and gorilla
Gorillas are the largest extant species of primates. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species and either four or five subspecies...

s), 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
Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae. It is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol....

 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. The bird enclosures let visitor enter and wander among the birds in a landscaped environment.

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.

Breeding and conservation

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.

Breeding of invasive plant

The aquarium staff was responsible for altering the genes of Caulerpa taxifolia
Caulerpa taxifolia
Caulerpa taxifolia is a species of seaweed, an alga of the genus Caulerpa. Native to the Indian Ocean, it has been widely used ornamentally in aquariums. The alga has a stem which spreads horizontally just above the seafloor, and from this stem grow vertical fern-like pinnae, whose blades are flat...

, such that it became a highly invasive plant known as "Killer Algae" which "has had severe negative consequences for biodiversity".


The zoo sits next to a main arterial route from the city centre and is easily accessed by car. The road can be very busy on holidays and weekends.

A tram line (U12) connects the zoo to the city centre.
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