Friday, 7 August 2015

A Family Visit

In July, we had family visiting here for two weeks: One of my cousins and her 10-year-old son stayed with my sister for part of their summer holiday. To make sure the boy had a great time here with his elderly relatives, my sister constantly thought of things to do he would enjoy. One of those activities was a visit to the zoo in Stuttgart.

I've briefly mentioned the zoo (called "Wilhelma" after its founder, King William [Wilhelm] of Wuerttemberg) in this post. Although I have mixed feelings about zoos, the Wilhelma is always worth a visit. Even if one would not want to look at the animals (and believe me, everything is done to ensure they live under the best possible conditions), the buildings and gardens alone are wonderful.

Living so close to Stuttgart, of course I've been to the Wilhelma many times, from a very early age. And yet I still discover things I have not noticed before, such as the star-studded ceiling painting in this building (part of a covered walkway, steps and a gallery connecting different levels of the park):


Most of the animals we saw were familiar from many previous visits. But one of the buildings from the late 1960s/early 70s is closed for renovation, and the animals who had their quarters there are moved to other houses. One such group are the bats I'd never seen in daylight before:


These are called "Flughunde" in German, "flying dogs". They look indeed a bit like small dogs - or, rather, cats - with their furry bodies, pointed ears and cute faces. It's a type of bat that lives on fruit; they present no danger at all to other animals or humans. The house they have been moved to temporarily is the Butterfly House. Visitors walk in, and there are no bars, no glass panels, no barriers at all between them and the many beautiful, jewel-like huge tropical butterflies living in the glass house. And now, they have new company in the shape of those bats. I really like them and would have so loved to stroke their soft fur, but of course they kept out of the way up on the higher branches of a tree. 

Maybe if you look closely you can spot the little one that kept very close to one of the adults. The mother (I assume it was the mother, as it is the female of the species looking after the little ones with most mammals) clearly wanted to sleep, but the little one was restless and kept somewhat clumsily climbing up and down, not leaving mother in peace... most human mothers are familiar with such a situation, I guess!

Anyway, it was a long, good, interesting day with a lot of fun, for the boy as well as for us. After nearly 7 1/2 hours at the zoo (with two or three breaks for a drink and a meal), we got back to the car. The adults were all shattered - the 10-year-old wasn't! He still had enough energy to go and play with the neighbours' daughter after we returned home.

21 comments:

  1. I don't think our zoos (in England) are nearly as well kept as the one your describe. My son and family went to one recently - I won't say which one - but they got the impression that it was a bit run down. And why does the giraffe house always smell so terrible? Zoos should be for animals threatened with extinction only so they can be re-introduced into the wild.

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    1. This one, along with several other of the big zoos here in Germany, has an excellent reputation. It participates in several scientific programs aimed at keeping genetic diversity in endangered species and so on.
      The giraffe house doesn't exactly smell like violets and roses here, either - but it is kept very clean.

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  2. What amazing photos, and it must have been fun times at the zoo. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It was a lot of fun! Those pictures are, by the way, courtesy my sister - I didn't take my camera, as I was sure there'd always be lots of people around.

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  3. As I thought, those bats were called "Flugfüchse", not -hunde. (Flying foxes). That's maybe because they have such a red fur?

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    1. You're probably right, Mum (you nearly always are!).

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  4. I was a 10 year old when I visited Berlin Zoo, (many moons ago- the mid 70's!).
    I recall it then being quite amazing and it's nice to hear that there are countries who genuinely take care of the animals they house even now. It's nice to see bats in daylight too as that is very rare with most zoo's.
    I really want to visit Germany again now remembering how beautiful the area was where we stayed and all the places you share with us here Meike! :)

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    1. I'll gladly act as your guide if you decide to pay the south of Germany a visit, Karen! Can't offer the metropolitan look and feel of Berllin, but our area has a lot going for it :-)

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  5. With camera + an interest in blogging one does tend to notice a lot more details everywhere, I think! :) Strange looking creatures, bats... I've never seen any in real life. When looking at these pictures I keep feeling that I'd like to flip them around (LOL)

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    1. You're right, Monica; I sometimes tend to look at things with my blog in mind, thinking "I'd like to show this to my readers", or "I wonder what my blogger friends' reactions will be" etc.
      Flip them around? Like a small umbrella, you mean?

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    2. LOL No, what I meant was rotate the pictures 180° ... to see the creatures "the right way up" ... I automatically tried to turn my phone when I first looked at this post, but of course then the picture adjusted to that... :)

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    3. LOL I really didn't get it, thanks for explaining :-) Of course you could always download a picture and rotate it then.

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    4. I just looked up some more close-up pictures of them online. They really do look like little foxes. :)

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  6. We call "flughunde" fruit bats or flying foxes. I saw a wild flock of them in Sri Lanka. At first I thought they were lots of black plastic refuse sacks that had blown into the nearby tree. It must have been a grand day out for the young lad and a good excuse for you to return to the zoo.

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    1. Yes, I think these are actually Flugfüchse (flying foxes), as my Mum pointed out in her comment. If I remember correctly, the Flughunde are all black and their fur is not quite as fluffy.
      Benjamin was fascinated by everything he saw, and it was good to observe how interested he was. I'd not been to the zoo in a few years, and so this was indeed a good excuse to return.

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  7. Isn't a Fledermaus a bat? I must have got it completely wrong! Anyway, they're beautiful.

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    1. No, Frances, you got it perfectly right. Fledermaus is bat, and flying dogs (or flying foxes) are different types of bats, so Flughunde and Flugfüchse are differenty types of Fledermaus.
      The kind that are native to Germany are very small, really not larger than a mouse (hence the name).

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  8. I love bats! Our bats eat MOSQUITOES! I would love to vist the zoo that you have shown us, I love the detail on that building. I am afraid if I visited Germany, I would be all eyes and would have to be quietly told to watch out for other people and moving vehicles! :-)

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    1. I love bats, too. 20 years or so ago, I found one in our bedroom in Sicily. It was tiny, no bigger than a mouse with wings... and it was terrified because it couldn't find the way out. I carefully caught it with the help of a bedsheet and then carried it in my hands outside on the balcony, where after a minute or so it left my hands and took off. I'll never forget how that tiny, trembling creature looked and felt in my hand.

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