Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Wilhelma Tour: educational botany in Stuttgart

Today the weather finally turned warm so I and half of the city, it seemed, went to Wilhelma, Stuttgart's zoo and botanical garden. 

There was quite a queue but then again this is one of the city's main attractions, bettered only by the Mercedes Benz Museum on the tourist to do list.

My guide on this tour was Michael. There were about 15 of us who followed him and he spoke in German so I observed more the mechanics of this tour rather than following the content closely. He was friendly but still serious in tone, kind of like a science teacher I had in the early 80s, beard and all. He spoke for as much as 7 or 8 minutes at a go and only made one joke in the 45 minutes I followed him. This seemed rather slow, also like the early 80s .

There were about 15 of us in the group and there were two children. He made a point of connecting with the children from the start by asking them questions in order to warm up the group as a whole. He had clearly done this before. It worked, it turned many of the adults into kids too, following their kind teacher around the park.

We spent some time on the architecture and history of Wilhelma, moved onto the plants and then arrived at the monkeys. He had the habit of always talking in front of an empty cage about an animal that might appear at any moment but never did. This would have been fine but while he was talking about the invisible gorilla, two chimpanzees were raising a storm in the next cage which sort of stole his glory. While this was not so ideal on this tour it is the sort of thing that I might be able to borrow and use deliberately. After a while I felt I had got the best out of this tour and so I left them to it.

I took these pictures of the different monkey buildings in anticipation of a visit I will make in the next day or two to Weissenhof Estate where they run daily tours. The buildings look strangely similar...

Finally I couldn't go to the Wilhelma and not take at least one bona fide tourist picture. So here it is: penguins.

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